WorldCraft: Bringing Bucky Fuller’s World Game into the 21st Century

Can We Build an MMORTS That Will Save the World?

Blizzard Booth at Gamescom

Blizzard Entertainment Booth at Gamescom

That may sound like a very bold question. “Can we build a video game that will save the world?” I am, however, quite serious. Before I bring you fully into my thoughts on this matter, I want to draw your attention to the popularity of modern online video games, as not everyone is aware of what’s going on with web-based games today.

The Current State of Massive Multiplayer Online Games

I stole part of the title for this post from World of Warcraft, the largest MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game) on the web today. It has about 8.5 million subscribers. Some people spend years building up characters, trading items, learning to master various in-game crafts, talking with their friends, and engaging in interactive cooperative and competitive multiplayer gaming. Some people spend the majority of their free time in this game or others like it. The top 10 MMO games have a total of about 36 million subscribers. Granted, a fair number of these overlap; that is, they are players that play more than one MMO at a time.  Regardless, that’s more than 5% of Earth’s population. That is a very wide reach.

Interestingly, unlike other types of computer games, MMORPG games cut across all demographic lines. Research shows that such games are played not only by teens and people in their early twenties (as with most other types of video and computer games), but by people from all walks of life.  From housewives to professionals, from the young to the middle-aged, from the uneducated to the highly educated, just about any social group has a few members playing an MMORPG in part of their time each week. We know this thanks to extensive research into the psychology of MMORPGs.

The average game charges $14/month to play.  That means we’re talking about an economy of over $5 billion per month in MMO gaming receipts, or almost $64 billion per year.  It means we’re talking about a farm of thousands upon thousands of computer servers, just to host all those players. The numbers stagger the mind. Development costs for such games are quite high, but so are profits. This has become a multi-billion dollar per year niche in which players cannot seem to get enough.

Imagine if even a small piece of that could be harnessed to make the world a better place. Without a doubt, some of it is. The companies that build and operate these games no doubt donate some portion of their wealth to charitable causes that help make the world a better place, but could someone build a game for which the ultimate goal would be to literally change the world?

Bucky Fuller and the World Game

Buckminster Fuller and a Geodesic Dome

Buckminster Fuller and a Geodesic Dome

Buckminster Fuller was one of the greatest minds in the history of the USA. He was an author of more than 30 books, a designer and inventor of numerous technologies, and a futurist who wanted to change the world for the better. He is perhaps best known for two of his inventions: the dymaxion map of the earth, and the geodesic dome. In modern physical science, a series of complex carbon structures have been named “fullerenes” in honor of their resemblance to his geodesic designs.

Fuller’s design of the dymaxion map is a projection of a world map onto the surface of a polyhedron, which can then be unfolded to a net in many different ways and flattened to form a two-dimensional map which retains the most accurate relative proportional integrity in comparison to other mapping methods. More simply put, it results in a highly accurate map with very little distortion, whereas the standard “world maps” that one finds are generally highly distorted. This map was used as the playing board for the World Game.

Fuller first proposed the World Game in 1961 as the core curriculum at the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. He proposed it again in 1964 for the 1967 International and Universal Exposition in Montreal, Quebec. The idea of the game is to use the existing resources of the earth to “make the world work for 100% of humanity in the shortest possible time through spontaneous cooperation without ecological damage or disadvantage to anyone.”

He founded the World Game Institute to take this game to the masses in 1972. After his death in 1983, a for profit company named o.s.Earth Inc. purchased the assets of the World Game, and began offering it to institutions as a Global Simulation Workshop.

Perhaps of interesting note to those reading this article, many times the game was played, the players were able to achieve the result, a world that works for everyone, in less than a decade. Consider that: elimination of the major problems of humanity, with no ecological damage, in under ten years. That was achieved by players of this game back in the 1970’s, and continues to be the case when the game is played today.

The world does not have to be run as it is. We can change it.

Bringing the World Game into the Digital Era: The Game of WorldCraft

Dymaxion Map of the Earth

Dymaxion Map of the Earth

This is where the rubber meets the road. If we so choose, we can take Fuller’s idea of the World Game, and merge it with the technology of Massive Multiplayer Games, bringing the vision of a world that works for everyone to life without relying upon governments or existing institutions to do it for us via the slow, painful, inefficient and cost-prohibitive methods of modern institutions. We can do it ourselves.

This is my proposal:

  1. Build an MMORTS (shorthand for Massive Multiplayer Online Real-Time Strategy game) that is based upon Fuller’s World Game, is played on the dymaxion map, and begins each simulation with the known present resources of each nation.
  2. Players may choose to play as members of nation states, as members of private groups, or as members of privately or publicly held corporations.
  3. Scoring methodology for each action taken:
    1. Gain 1 point for improving the conditions of the people in your domain.
    2. Gain 5 additional points for improving the conditions of people outside of your domain.
    3. Gain 10 additional points for improving the conditions of the ecology of Earth.
    4. Lose 2 points for lowering the conditions of the people in your domain.
    5. Lose 10 additional points for lowering the conditions of people outside of your domain.
    6. Lose 20 additional points for lowering the conditions of the ecology of Earth.
    7. Each project rated upon completion with “Total Points Gained / Total Points Lost / Net Score.”
    8. Each player rated with “Net Score / Win-Lose Ratio.” Players with the best “Win-Lose Ratio” are considered the highest-ranked players in the game world, and players with the highest “Net Score” are considered the second-ranked players in the game world. A player with both high Net Score and excellent Win-Lose Ratio would receive a special ranking in the game world.
    9. The game will be equipped with a publishing tool that allows game scenarios to be published to a Wiki or other type of web-based system.
    10. The Wiki system will have a pledge/funding mechanism built into it, allowing the project organizers to actually fund the proposed game projects and build them in the real world.
    11. The Wiki system will also have a method of gathering the people required to build and complete projects, both by volunteer (not-for-profit) workers, and by paid employees who will assist in the efforts by bidding for the work in a bidding system something like Freelancer.com.

The Prediction: A World That Works for Everyone

Cost of Peace versus War

Cost of Peace versus War

We have it within our abilities to build this game starting today, along with its companion Wiki, bidding engine, and all of the tools necessary to realize Fuller’s vision of a world that works for 100% of humanity. When Fuller proposed the idea in 1961, it seemed like utter fantasy, even to the most audacious and optimistic hippies. In the 21stCentury we have the means to actually realize Fuller’s grand vision for humanity.

There is no reason we cannot build a highly accurate global simulation that is good enough to test ideas in a virtual world before building them in the real world. There is no reason we cannot build a companion engine to fund and build those projects in the real world. There is no reason we cannot play the World Game in the actual living Earth, and transform our planet.

My prediction is that if this vision is built, if this game and Wiki are realized, then we (humanity – the players) will transform this planet and realize Bucky’s big dream within a decade of the year the game launches. If we get started on this project before the end of 2011, there’s no reason we cannot have it ready to play by the end of 2012 or 2013.  If we finish it by 2012, there is no reason we cannot achieve Fuller’s vision by 2023.  Imagine that you awaken some fine morning in 2023, and find yourself living in:

A world that works for 100% of humanity, through spontaneous cooperation, and without ecological offense or the disadvantage of anyone.

If that sounds like crazy utopian talk, consider this…. In that next 10-12 years, millions, perhaps billions of people will play Massive Multiplayer Games. We have nothing to lose by giving them something more powerful to do with their time. The worst that could happen is a few good results come of it. The best that could happen is that Bucky Fuller and I are both right. We can have a world and a culture that anyone would be happy to be born into.

Are you game?

If so, please send an email to: worldcraft@ebsarver.com. Please state what you can contribute to this project. How can you help make this a reality? What skills or financial assets are you willing to pledge to this project? Do you know others who would like to join us? Please, forward them a link to this page. Can you get me in front of TED or other forums to present this idea? Please, lend me a hand. I mean to change the planet. It is not a simple task, but with the help of enough people, we can make it an easy task.

Actively Seeking the TED Prize

If you truly resonate with this idea, please nominate me for the TED Prize:

About the TED Prize

The TED Prize is designed to leverage the TED community’s exceptional array of talent and resources. It is awarded annually to an exceptional individual who receives $100,000 and, much more important, “One Wish to Change the World.” After several months of preparation, s/he unveils his/her wish at an award ceremony held during the TED Conference. These wishes have led to collaborative initiatives with far-reaching impact.

We work closely with the TED community, off- and online, to obtain pledges of support for the TED Prize winners. These pledges can take the form of business services, hardware and software, publicity, infrastructure, advice, connections, feet on the ground and more. This is in addition to the funding and support from the Sapling Foundation and TED staff.

From: http://www.tedprize.org/

My “One Wish to Change the World” is:

To implement a digital version of Buckminster Fuller’s World Game, aka WorldCraft, along with a Wiki and bidding engine for building in-game projects in the real world, such that within one decade we have established:

A world that works for 100% of humanity, through spontaneous cooperation, and without ecological offense or the disadvantage of anyone.

My “Pledge to WorldCraft Supporters” is:

I promise to dedicate myself to the project in the following ways, and commit to keeping the project within the following parameters:

  1. No fee shall ever be charged for use of WorldCraft.
  2. No fee shall ever be charged for membership in any WorldCraft affiliated web sites.
  3. All funding for WorldCraft shall remain based on the charity of our supporters.
  4. I will establish a Game Design Board comprised of Game Designers, Game Producers, Game Artists, and Game Programmers to oversee the project.
  5. The game will be developed democratically, and each member of the Board will have an equal vote on the direction of Game Development.
  6. I will serve as a Game Producer on the Board.
  7. I personally will not stop seeking funding and volunteers until the project is completed.
  8. All people working on WorldCraft shall either be volunteers working without compensation, or shall be compensated by special donations earmarked by patrons for that purpose.
  9. All donations earmarked for paying volunteers will be distributed on equal share per hour of work completed to all volunteers who have requested to share in those donations.
  10. Charitable donations earmarked for other purposes will never be redirected to compensate volunteers.
  11. Charitable donations not earmarked for any specific purpose will be utilized to pay volunteers on an as-needed basis, and shall never exceed 50% of any individual donation.

I Give This Idea Away

I make no claims to copyright, trademark or patent of this idea.  This idea is simply an extension of an idea originally developed by Buckminster Fuller.  If any person, people, organization or group wishes to take this idea and run with it on their own, they should go ahead and do it.  I’m not stuck on the idea that I be the person to build this thing.  I just want to see it built.  So go ahead, please, steal this idea.

I’m not in this to make a billion dollars or become famous.  I am in it to produce a world that works for 100% of humanity, through spontaneous cooperation, and without ecological offense or the disadvantage of anyone.

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WorldCraft: Bringing Bucky Fuller’s World Game into the 21st Century, 10.0 out of 10 based on 4 ratings

10 Responses to “WorldCraft: Bringing Bucky Fuller’s World Game into the 21st Century”

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  1. Joe S Moore says:

    For more info re World Game see
    http://buckminster.info/Index/W/World_Game_A-E.htm

    and the top priority of WG, the Global Energy Grid
    http://www.geni.org/

    I agree that WG should be played online by anyone.

    Buckminster Fuller Virtual Institute owner & webmaster
    Tucson, AZ

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  8. Paul Gowan says:

    LIVINGRY VS. KILLINGRY
    I wanted to create an educational historical virtual world in a University mainframe in the late 1980’s based on Bucky’s ideas but I didn’t have the connections to get it done and the computer graphics hardware really was not yet available. Since then, games like POPULOUS, CIVILIZATION, SIMCITY, AGE OF EMPIRES, THIRD WORLD FARMER and SECOND LIFE have been made. There are now 2d and 3d apps for building virtual worlds such as OpenSim and free apps like BLENDER 3D for making 3d models. There might even be ways to use Google Earth and Google Mars.
    There is a TED talk by Jane McGonigal about gamers making a better world and cooperatively solving problems such as protein folding. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dE1DuBesGYM ).

    I strongly support your idea and would like to see your wish come true.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6VEaU4G_e7k
    http://tetworld.tripod.com/intro.html
    http://www.wrsc.org/content/world-resources-simulation-center
    http://www.worldometers.info/
    http://bfi.org/about-bucky/resources/world-design-science-decade-documents
    http://challenge.bfi.org/reference

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