Media release issued by the MacDiarmid Institute for Advance Materials and Nanotechnology, UNESCO, StratEDGY Strategic Foresight, the Royal Society of New Zealand and the New Zealand Futures Trust in association with the Transit of Venus Forum, Tolaga Bay and Gisborne, 5-8 June 2012
Ki te kahore he whakakitenga ka ngaro te iwi
What if, in 2022, everyone in New Zealand could use science as easily as they can use a computer now? What would you create? Who would you work with? What would you invest in? What problems would you solve? What would you help to change?
These are questions posed in Pounamu, an online, idea-generating game running alongside the Transit of Venus Forum. It is set in 2022, in a New Zealand where everyone is smart about science and technology. Participants play by posting micro-forecasts (140 characters) of future possibilities and building on, or reshaping other players’ ideas.
On 7 and 8 June people from all over New Zealand are invited to create a better future for New Zealand by joining in the online game in the future world of Pounamu to find thousands of answers to the question.
How do we treasure and build on what we already have - land, people, knowledge and connections – with new tools, new capacities, new connections and new ways of thinking to generate prosperity for all?
Participants can play from anywhere with an internet connection. They can play using their own name or as an avatar. They can play for five minutes and share one idea, or play for the whole game and post hundreds of possible futures. Players gain points and move up the game leader-board by posting ideas that generate further discussion, contributing ‘super-interesting’ ideas to the game and winning awards. People can sign up at www.Pounamu.gen.nz.
The game will run alongside the Transit of Venus Forum sessions. Questions and ideas from the forum discussions will be fed into the online conversation. Ideas, challenges and future possibilities from the game conversation will be fed back to the forum.
The forum will also be webcast live, so people can watch the Forum proceedings and play the game at the same time, wherever they are located on 7 and 8 June. Find out more about the webcast.
Pounamu provides an opportunity for all New Zealanders to contribute to the conversation and for a wide range of different understandings and knowledge to be brought together to imagine futures for New Zealand. There is particular encouragement for younger New Zealanders to add their voices to the discussion.
“The discussion at the Transit of Venus Forum will be an important contribution to shaping a better future for New Zealand, but not everyone can come to Gisborne to be part of the discussion,” said Professor Shaun Hendy, Deputy Director of the MacDiarmid Institute. Professor Hendy worked closely with Professor Sir Paul Callaghan and has been part of the team carrying Sir Paul’s vision for the Transit of Venus Forum forward.
“We wanted to take the conversation out beyond the physical walls of the Forum and involve all New Zealanders in looking ahead to our shared future, using science as our touchstone.”
Pounamu will consider the same big questions that are being discussed in the Forum:
- how we make a living without harming the New Zealand environment;
- how we ensure prosperity for all;
- how we ensure that New Zealand is a place where talent wants to live.
The difference is that participants will work together in the 2022 world of Pounamu, pooling their collective knowledge and creativity to explore possibilities, spotlight unexpected challenges and reveal new paths forward.
The game provides the opportunity for us to explore what we could do, for ourselves and others, if New Zealand was the most science literate country in the world. It allows everyone to imagine their answers to the question, “If in 2022, everyone in New Zealand was smart about science, what could you do to make New Zealand a place where YOU and other talented people like you want to live?”
Dr Stephanie Pride, from StratEDGY Strategic Foresight has partnered with the MacDiarmid Institute and UNESCO to sponsor Pounamu and will be managing the game at the Forum. “We always have to be grounded in the facts and the data, but sometimes the best way to imagine creative responses, shift our thinking, rekindle optimism and move towards action is by gaming and having fun.
“Some of the possible futures we face, globally and for New Zealand, are grim and some approaches to thinking about the future heap desperate news on top of bad. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and disempowered. Fear and anxiety shut down parts of our brains. Gaming can open them up again.”
Where is Pounamu set?
Pounamu is set in a world of fewer resources and more demands, but also of new capacities to connect, to share, and to create new knowledge and new solutions.
In 2022 –energy, water and food will be in short supply across the globe and cost more. Skilled work will generate nine times more income than unskilled work. At the same time, we’ll have an ageing population, with fewer people in the workforce to meet the needs of those who aren’t working any more.
Unless we apply technology to our challenges and build the skills to move to high value work, we’ll have to make some hard choices, for example, between keeping rural roads open or funding drugs for Alzheimer’s; between education for the fortunate few, or mining the seabed to pay for education for all; between working at the cutting edge of your field or living in New Zealand.
At the same time, we have the capacities to connect, to share, and to create new knowledge and new solutions at a scale never experienced before in human history. We have technology, from the level of manipulating sub-atomic particles, to printing molecules to connecting sensor networks across the world that can both generate revenue and create benefits for individuals and communities. We already have examples of high-tech, high return global businesses operating from New Zealand (and four of these are showcased in the game video).
Who is running the game?
The Pounamu game is sponsored by the MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology ,StratEDGY Strategic Foresight, the New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO with support from the Royal Society of New Zealand and the New Zealand Futures Trust. The game is run with the support of the Institute for the Future on their ‘Foresight Engine’ (see below).
Where do I go to play?
Go to www.Pounamu.gen.nz to sign up for the game, watch the game video, create your player and get more information about the world of Pounamu.
When does Pounamu run?
Pounamu will run live on line: 8.30am –9.00pm on Thursday 7 June and 8.30am to 12 noon on Friday 8 June.
What happens to the data afterwards?
After the game, all the data generated in the conversation will be made publicly available for analysis and further use. A competition in which students use the data generated in the conversation to develop business ideas will run from the close of the Transit of Venus Forum to February 2013 and will be judged by a panel of scientists, entrepreneurs and visionary New Zealanders.
What platform is the game being run on?
Pounamu is being run with the support of the Institute for the Future on their ‘Foresight Engine’. The Foresight Engine is a platform for bringing people together to think about issues that are important to them in ways that pool different knowledge and perspectives. It is specifically designed to facilitate the kinds of conversations which are required for the resolution of problems of national significance. It is the same platform that was used to deliver the Magnetic South game on the long-term future of Christchurch. (That game was delivered by a partnership between Landcare Research, StratEDGY Strategic Foresight and the Christchurch City Council.)
Designed by world-renowned game designer Jane McGonigal, the Foresight Engine is a powerful but easy-to-use gaming environment for imagining many different futures. Players use cards to play Twitter-style ideas for new futures for New Zealand. They can build on one another’s cards to create long card chains. Each chain builds better ideas as players debate them, extend them, and pose questions about them. The longer the chains, the richer the ideas—and the more points players win.
The Foresight Engine has been described as an online “public laboratory for developing and sharing cutting edge ideas about the future of science and technology” (Institute for the Future 2009). As well as Magnetic South, the Foresight Engine has been used to address issues including the use of space and satellite technology (Free Space), the energy use and water scarcity conundrum (E=H20), and reinventing the process of medical discovery (Breakthroughs to Cures).