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Scenario Marketplace

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Joined: 17 Mar 2006
Posts: 712
Location: Oregon

PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2009 5:35 pm    Post subject: Scenario Marketplace Reply with quote

I struggle to find what would make a superstruct 2020 at least
as successful as superstruct 2019 was.

It is possible that mere repetition might accomplish this goal, but
it seems more likely that in order to achieve success, more is needed.


One on the things that most intrigued me about superstruct 2019
was the "open-ended"ness of it. We were given the 5 superthreats,
and some few reports of what was happening in 2019, but there was
a lot of "room to move" in the sense that players could fill in the blanks
with their own inventions as to the nature of their part of the world in
the year 2019.

In the same world that was ravaged by warfare, disease, and
food shortages, other parts of the world thought that perfecting
distributed, automated rail-based personal rapid transit was worth
pursuing, if not inevitable. The debate raged whether society could
survive if it required folks to grow food in their yards, or , gasp,
get to know their neighbors. Meanwhile epidemics raged through
some communities, pushing food security down the list, but others
seemed insulated from the chaos, even profiting from it, c.f Wilhelm

It was this multiplicity of scenarios, that in writing a story, or proposing
a superstruct, the author could add their own "flavor" of scenario,
that seemed to give the game a special intrigue. I can only
imagine that, in terms of richness of ideas and stories, the play
"overflowed" the original expectations of the game creators.
My claim: by not pinning down precisely the nature of the world
that faced the superthreats, the game creators invited players to
invent their own particular scenarios.

I derive several conclusions from this analysis.

First, superstruct 2020 should also leave space for scenario development
by players. Second, while this scenario development space emerged
informally in SS2019, it may be useful to include a more formal notion
of a scenario marketplace in superstruct 2020.

SS2019 included a capacity for this in choosing the superthreat
that a particular superstruct addressed, but SS2020 could make
this much more explicit.
As an example, consider the scenario marketplaces that already
exist: places where bets can be made on who will win presidential
races or poker tournaments. Property insurance is another of
these kinds of marketplaces.

By including some notion of bidding or betting, a clearer view of
what is happening in 2020 could emerge. Even mutually exclusive
scenarios could be present simultaneously within the game, as
could multiple variations on a particular scenario. In your
scenario, death and disease dominate the landscape, while in mine,
advances in technology are miniaturizing my needs for outside
resources, but technological threats to privacy are reducing the
possibilities for the free flow of ideas needed for further progress.
We may not need to decide who is right, if that is even possible.

Superstruct is, essentially, a simulacrum of a simulation.
(more on this in a later post). It may be enough for SS2020
to continue the informal encouragement of alternate scenarios,
but, if technologically feasible, it may be valuable to add more
formalism to the notion of alternate scenarios, up to and including
a scenario marketplace.

Finally, in the case where a more rigorous treatment of 2020 scenarios
is not included in superstruct play, this notion may still have value
in the preparatory steps to creating SS2020. I have to think that
something like a scenario marketplace was in play in the creation
of the 5 superthreats. A formal bidding/betting process might be
useful in identifying superthreats (or the like) for SS2020.

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