Ways for virtual games to seed actual transformations

Can games be a way for online "tribes" to begin seeding actual transformations?


Tens of millions of people are turning to online games for entertaining quests and adventures. Evoke! and a growing number of "serious games" are beginning to turn these energies into adventures that can help change the world. As strains and pressures mount, communities around the world are likely to increasingly tap the ideas and volunteer spirit of virtual communities through social games to help overcome their challenges. 


An opportunity may be in reach for those inspired by the ideas and values of EmergentbyDesign.com (and kindred insights of @johnrobb on seeding Resilient Communities, as well as @umairh on buildership), to respond through a virtual game to real-world opportunities. Google Sketchup and similar tools make it possible for teams to and share designs for schools, residential developments, health and wellness centers, marketplaces, farms, resorts, and retirement communities fit for the opportunities and needs of a new era.  Online tools and templates are making it far easier than in the past to cooperate in preparing related market assessments and business plans. And open source tools, as noted at http://openworldinstitute.org, are making it possible to create eGovernment solutions for more transparent and accountable institutions – removing barriers to the successful launch of new ventures.


In the context of game-like "virtual->actual" competitions, such tribes might vie to cocreate sustainable breakthroughs in their areas of interest.  Reviewers or judges might give a boost to the most notable innovations.


The most valuable prizes, however, can come in the form of opportunities to turn the visions into actual projects.  As  Greg Mortenson's "Three Cups of Tea" describes, hundreds of communities in poor regions have proven willing to offer land and in-kind contributions to improve learning opportunities. On far larger scale, thriving communities have sprung  on sites such as Zonamerica.com (Uruguay), Freeport (Bahamas), or Songdo (South Korea) in response to seeds from visionary founders.  (A team of California college students, as noted prominently in a NY Times article http://j.mp/cOdmsI ,  helped shape key aspects of Songdo's $25 billion new city venture.)


Inspiring projects might draw online and local volunteers. They could be rewarded through karma points/social currencies such as outlined at http://j.mp/anwX33 & http://j.mp/bKgs6W  (Openworld Freedompoints),  http://j.mp/hAPb9V  (John Robb's Metacurrencies), and http://j.mp/iaUzxS (Saul Goldman's cell phone-recorded actions earning symbolic rewards).  Allies to help fund actual projects might be found via GlobalGiving, Kickstarter, TippingBucket, Kiva, and Prosper. In areas struggling with poverty and/or high unemployment, local communities could review a range of virtually-mapped project opportunities, choose ones that look to add value, and directly work out with the online tribes the types of global partnerships to move from ideas to action. 


Successful projects resulting from the virtual->actual partnerships might also generate assets for local good causes, as well as for highly rated online volunteers who help bring the projects into being. On the horizon may be opportunities to spark formation of "intentional communities" that can attract investors and/or migrants seeking better futures, in ways that can awaken assets for aligned causes.  Early ideas on partnerships to share the benefits of rising land values on this are outlined at www.openworld.com and in slides at http://j.mp/aSKLHX .


If a virtual->actual game has the potential to produce such outcomes, it may prove an absorbing and exciting one to play in. What do you think?