SWTW: Superstruct

Each week Iain Simons finds you a game to while away a few hours at your desk. This week's <em>Somet

Q: What does "superstruct" mean?

Su`per`struct´ v. t. 1.To build over or upon another structure; to erect upon a foundation.

The Institute for the Future is a think-tank based in California and on October 6th they launched their new project, Superstruct, which bills itself as the “World’s first massively multiplayer forecasting game.” If that sounds a little lofty, it’s because it is. Superstruct is concerned with nothing less than making the future and inventing new ways to “augment our collective human potential.”

Upon registering, your first task is to imagine yourself in 2019 - what you do, what your skills are and how you view the World. It’s an immediately compelling and unnerving experience to do this - the game compels you not to fictionalise a character. This is very much ‘about you’.

It’s a fascinating proposition , and one which is going to take a little time to understand fully. To get started, take yourself over to the how to play page, which gives details of how to play and the missions you will need to complete to progress through the game, which itself is played across wiki’s, forums and other social softwares.

It’s a unique project, made even more so by the limited life it has. Come November 17th, the game will close and prizes will be awarded for the best new Superstructures by a panel of luminiaries including Bruce Sterling, Jimmy Wales and Tim Kring. It’s not too late to be in with a chance of inventing the future.

Play Superstruct

Iain Simons writes, talks and tweets about videogames and technology. His new book, Play Britannia, is to be published in 2009. He is the director of the GameCity festival at Nottingham Trent University.
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Can Philip Hammond save the Conservatives from public anger at their DUP deal?

The Chancellor has the wriggle room to get close to the DUP's spending increase – but emotion matters more than facts in politics.

The magic money tree exists, and it is growing in Northern Ireland. That’s the attack line that Labour will throw at Theresa May in the wake of her £1bn deal with the DUP to keep her party in office.

It’s worth noting that while £1bn is a big deal in terms of Northern Ireland’s budget – just a touch under £10bn in 2016/17 – as far as the total expenditure of the British government goes, it’s peanuts.

The British government spent £778bn last year – we’re talking about spending an amount of money in Northern Ireland over the course of two years that the NHS loses in pen theft over the course of one in England. To match the increase in relative terms, you’d be looking at a £35bn increase in spending.

But, of course, political arguments are about gut instinct rather than actual numbers. The perception that the streets of Antrim are being paved by gold while the public realm in England, Scotland and Wales falls into disrepair is a real danger to the Conservatives.

But the good news for them is that last year Philip Hammond tweaked his targets to give himself greater headroom in case of a Brexit shock. Now the Tories have experienced a shock of a different kind – a Corbyn shock. That shock was partly due to the Labour leader’s good campaign and May’s bad campaign, but it was also powered by anger at cuts to schools and anger among NHS workers at Jeremy Hunt’s stewardship of the NHS. Conservative MPs have already made it clear to May that the party must not go to the country again while defending cuts to school spending.

Hammond can get to slightly under that £35bn and still stick to his targets. That will mean that the DUP still get to rave about their higher-than-average increase, while avoiding another election in which cuts to schools are front-and-centre. But whether that deprives Labour of their “cuts for you, but not for them” attack line is another question entirely. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.

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