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Towards a Commoning Game - by George Por, technoshaman

A proposal by George Por,


Discussion and details at



"I envision the game as a path to create and empower a global

constituency to practice:

“Commons-ownership and governance of a new currency that can out-
compete any corporate model, and fund the development & implementation
of further capabilities, including  a more resilient Commons.” (Tom
Crowl, in: http://groups.google.com/group/contactsummit/msg/c665ab83e0df7056 )

By suggesting a game I don’t want to trivialize the unresolved
challenges around the issues of ownership ad governance of any global
commons. The good news is that the to engage in the collaborative,
rigorous and systemic inquiry needed to meet the, we don’t have to
start that inquiry from scratch. There’s a relevant and remarkable
line of research that has been pioneered by Commons economist, James
B. Quilligan http://p2pfoundation.net/James_Quilligan and others.

What is needed is a productive dialogue between the game development
team and the Commons economists. In this post, I want to test the
game’s core idea as it has been emerging from the conversations on the
School of Commoning and with other interested commoners.

“The social and political space where things get done and where people
have a sense of belonging and have an element of control over their
lives, providing sustenance, security and independence... Commons are
organized around resources that are collectively owned or shared
between or among populations.” (Wikipedia)

The first question is: Can a game create such social and political
space? My answer is clearly affirmative, assuming that it is designed
with that criterion in my mind.

1. Purpose of the game play

The purpose is two-fold: to inspire players to discover/create commons
and experience commoning, defined as:

a. The ensemble of practices used by people in the course of managing
shared resources and reclaiming the commons

b. Moving from the I to the We, where individuals become capable to
think, feel, and act as Commons

2. Game challenges

Individual level
What kind of commons do you see around you or are a member of? Write a
blog, a tweet, or a wiki page, or create and post short vid clip about
what makes you think/feel so. Go for impact, as reflected by
crowdranking of your story.

Group level
Self-organize into teams to co-create a new and mutually valued
possibility, as commons. Co-create with them a story of your commons
told in multiple media.  Go for impact, as reflected by crowdranking.

3. Principles

There will be a small set of core principles of commoning derived from
the successful practices of existing commons, P2P ventures, and social
process technologies (e.g. Art if Hosting, Holacracy, et.) which
players can use guidepost to successful gaming behavuors.

4. Game Objects

The initial game objects will be players-generated knowledge and
networking artifacts. Secondary game objects will be the links players
and spectators can create among those artifacts.

5. Game mechanics

I found lots of similarity of intention, and invite collaboration with
the Transition Game that BenB wrote about
http://groups.google.com/group/contactsummit/msg/44abce744933de64 :

Play--progress yourself (person, kin, collective, community, region,
towards regenerative culture, in verifiable action steps;
that is, produce a 
web media resource which presents the basic who/
what/when/where/why/how of 
your 'success story' (achievement) and
submit it (as metadata via 
bookmarklet) to the "game" database.

Points--all players are free to browse the database and review
which is then rated subjectively in dimensions like scope/
scale of impact, 
ingenuity/creativity, veracity/thoroughness, beauty/
craft, 'production 
value', technical clarity, humor/entertainment,
effort/investment, etc. 
These are given a dynamic weighted average
'total' which factors visibility 
to other players/browsers based on
the viewer's values/profile/record, or by 
collective intelligence...

There’s a good source of thinking about further game mechanics is
here: http://gamification.org/wiki/Game_Mechanics . I have ideas at
various  levels of elaboration about many of those game mechanics
elements but prefer not launching into the work on them before a
design team coalesce around a shared vision and principles of the

If we succeed with developing this game it can serve as a prototype
for gamifying the transition to a sustainable, commons-based society.
More about the latter, here: http://www.commonslearningalliance.org/content/towards-commons-base...

When we climb a mountain, wanting to reach the highest vista, first we
look up to see whether we are moving in the right direction, then we
look in front of us to seek the path taking us there.

If the direction this post point to calls you, then please join me in
the climb and help scouting out the paths leading there.

Here’s a special challenge to interested co-designers: Let’s develop a
clear, coherent, and convincing game plane, complete with the design
of a crowdfunding campaign, and present it not later then by October,
at Contact in NYC."

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