Liz Alexander in an Oct. 20, 2016 article for Fast Company describes a ‘futures’ game designed by Toronto, Canada-based Idea Couture,
Other than a brief chat with a college career counselor, or that time a family member asked what you wanted to be when you grew up, has anyone encouraged you to look into the future? Were you ever formally taught how to develop your capacity for foresight? Me neither.
A new game called IMPACT, by the innovation and design firm Idea Couture, wants to change that. Given how rapidly the workforce is evolving—not to mention life’s inherent uncertainty—IMPACT’s creators felt it might be useful to help people sharpen their ability to anticipate and respond to unexpected change, especially when it comes to their careers.
It’s designed for groups of three to five players (though up to six can play), and it’s arguably best suited to people ages 16 and older.
To begin, each player chooses a card that outlines their persona for the duration of the game. All are meant to represent a knowledge worker from the future workforce—someone who helps customize prescriptions for patients; uses social-media mining and systems thinking to assemble distributed teams; or develops living spaces, transportation solutions, and health innovations to make space travel more feasible for humans. And each persona card includes a set of optimal conditions for exercising their skill sets.
In each round, a player draws an “impact card” describing a technological breakthrough that may shake up their career prospects—for good or ill. Every player then has to react to its impact by adding or subtracting “influence cubes” to the game board, which covers 10 “domains” (agriculture, energy, transportation, etc.), only three of which are relevant to each character’s “preferred future.”
As Elaine Cameron, resident futurist and senior director of the FUTURE Perspective Group at the public relations firm Burson-Marsteler, explains, “One of the things futurists learn to be comfortable with is a degree of uncertainty. What we are equipped to do is to track signals of change, anticipate the direction of travel, and imagine possible scenarios that could evolve”—all skills that IMPACT is meant to sharpen in players. “That way you have some kind of plan in place should any of those possibilities become reality.”
Cameron recently contributed to IMPACT’s Kickstarter campaign, which exceeded its target of $15,000 CAD earlier this month. It’s now fully funded and entering production, with Idea Couture taking preorders (at $65 USD) and pledging to donate 25 free copies to educators.
I [Liz Alexander] recently asked some volunteers to give IMPACT a spin. One was Debra France, a corporate educator at a global innovation company. In one round, France was faced with four cards describing real-life technological breakthroughs in green jet fuel, cheap spray-on solar cells, fuel-producing plants, and biomedical implants that can bond with human cells. While only some of these eco-friendly innovations worked to her persona’s strengths, and she won bonus round at the end of the game by coming up with the “era” headline: “It’s now easy being green.”
Afterward, France said she had a strong sense of the game’s real-world applications, including “for young people in STEM programs,” because it pushes players to consider “a broad range of possible future jobs that could help them decide which science or technology to pursue.”
If you have the time, it’s an interesting article.
Here’s a video Idea Couture produced touting their game,
Were you just as surprised to find out the Government of Canada has an innovation lab (Policy Horizons Canada)?
Here’s a little more about the government’s innovation lab from a Sept. 19, 2016 Idea Couture news release announcing their IMPACT Kickstarter campaign (closed on Oct. 1, 2016) on PRWeb (Note: A link has been removed),
The game was originally designed in collaboration with Policy Horizons Canada, an innovation lab within the Government of Canada, whose work explores how disruptive technologies may shape the economy and society. Players learn about developments in fields like nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, biotechnology, and robotics; and are prompted to consider their industry, environment, and policy implications.
IMPACT is currently used by public servants within the Government of Canada to introduce and teach the discipline of strategic foresight. Now, through the launch of a Kickstarter campaign, Idea Couture is on a mission to make it available to anyone who wants to get better at futures thinking.
Robert Bolton, Head of Foresight Studio at Idea Couture, says, “When people play IMPACT, they practice the creative and critical thinking skills that foresight strategists like us use in our work with Fortune 500 companies and governments. We want to make those skills broadly accessible, so a more diverse population of citizens is empowered to participate in determining the shape of the future.”
I’m glad to see this game as it seems designed to raise awareness about science and future applications. It’s especially good to see the Canadian government and its policy makers using these tools. However, after watching the video, it seems that this game is not for everybody. You may have noticed the players are aged 20 – 40 (at the most). What about those of us who don’t fit into the demographics (employed 20 – 40 year olds) as shown in the video? Plus, I have a strong suspicion that this game is oriented to urbanites in the Canadian south.
If the game is intended to have a broader appeal than what is seen in the video, Idea Couture needs to do a better job of telling the story.