Serious(ish) Games: Hindsight 2030
Update: you can now get a CC-BY version of Hindsight 2030 on Itch.io
Back in November 2020, I teamed up with Mike Masnick and Leigh Beadon to run a light and silly foresight game called Hindsight 2030. Our goal was to make a fun game to play in under an hour, perfect for a happy hour at the end of a long week – we succeeded!
The core loop was simple – each team picks a headline from 2030 and then develops a series of 5 headlines that get us from today to that future situation. Then, each team presents their arc with everyone and we all guess what happens next. Here was our example version:
2021: Copyright bill compromises DNS system, adds harsh new penalties for file-sharers
2023: Can copyright infringement disqualify you from UBI? The courts are split
2025: Pirate Party wins first US victories on promises of open internet revival
2027: Invalidation of SpaceX patents ushers in age of hobbyist nano-satellites
2029: SatTorrent protocol sparks panic in Hollywood, author still a mystery
2030: Massive lawsuit threatens Pirate Party’s satellite broadband network
While designing the game, we had a fun time brainstorming the initial 2030 Headline prompts ahead of time. The prompts focused on future tech intersecting with social or regulatory trends. We ended up with 27 prompts (3 options per table) that covered an array of futures…
Some of the 2030 headlines:
- Programmers sue for royalties after AI author wins Hugo Award for best scifi novel
- Government declines to investigate Amazon’s sea-based fulfillment centers, says they’re outside US jurisdiction
- Town votes to recall AI mayor following budget crisis
Our players were a blast; they took the prompts in directions that were varying combinations of insightful, funny, and frightening This game was a hit and we’ll definitely be designing more games in a similar vein!