UNDER CONSTRUCTION: Speculative Worldbuilding Event(s)

The Worldbuilding Festival

A program of online activities to accelerate on-the-ground experimentation

A future-building event which creates a dialogue between a creative element of imagining desirable and plausible alternatives (e.g which ideal world could compete with the vision/narrative of ethnonationalist authoritarians) on one hand… and on the other, the current reality and what is to be learned from it (as identified by ethnographic research findings).

  • Track #1: Imagining desirable and plausible alternatives

Engage participants in different target countries/communities in the process of creating the districts within the worldbuilding exercise of the Project Witness, which contain creative, desirable and plausible alternatives to economic and social systems where they currently live. This is done through a writing competition in the original language of the target countries.

  • Track #2: Understanding today (presenting and discussing research findings).

Academics, journalists ++ present findings in the form of short pre-recorded lectures with live audience Q&A.

  • Track #3: From here to there -

discussion and co-creation sessions bringing together elements from track 1 and track 2 to map out potential action plans or maps or policies to get from where people are, to where people want to go.

Date (tbc): Late November 2021


  1. Source book
  2. Topic digest (SSNA visualisation + insights)
  3. Nice things (e.g original art)


It is difficult to plan a transition to a world we can’t imagine. Witness is a project in which participants collaboratively create scenarios where alternative economics thinking is connected to the creative processes used by Sci-Fi authors to create detailed, plausible worlds. Through this world-building experiment, we examine, reimagine and accelerate more resilient structures to sketch out what societies built on those frames would look like.

  • What do the cities who adopt an alternative development plan like Donut Economic Models look like?
  • What different forms can help us reimagine the tourism industry in the wake of COVID-19 or social protection policies in the wake of growing informality?
  • How do different societal groups prepare for uncertain futures and unprecedented events like COVID?
  • What are the implications of political choices and policies on different society groups and economic sectors?

The floating megacity of Witness is a space where the answers to some of these questions are emerging in real time as a result of interactions between ‘players.’ Set in a post-climate catastrophes future, it has weathered the worst of climate change, and is now home to tens of millions of humans. It is large and diverse enough to support several Distrikts, each with its own economic model: Nordic social-democracy on steroids, Hayekian-libertarian, anarcho-communitarian and so on.

What you can get out of it

How would X (a technology, service, industry, program, activity, business model, policy etc) function under economic and social model Y or Z?

We can get credible and creative answers to your questions by running a simulation within Witness:

  • Witness is an open-source fictional world within which you can experience different alternatives of what a desirable low carbon future could look like. This world is different from other fictional worlds, in that it pays a lot of attention to its economies, and makes its economies radically different from the one we live in.
  • It is large and diverse enough to be divided into territorial units called Distrikts, each one with its own unique mix of culture, ideology, science, religion, institution and economy. There is plenty of space for mental experiments not on one alternative model, but on several. Whether you are into designer cryptocurrencies, Modern Monetary Theory, commons-based peer production, there is a Distrikt that needs your expertise.

What comes out of it

Inputs Platform Outputs Impact Strategy
Good People Conversation Articles & reports Activities will result in clusters of local actors that together try out new ideas to build thriving people, places and organisations in a low carbon future. Each cluster is composed of individuals, groups and organisations with deep ties to a place.
Interesting stories Sensemaking New Projects & programs How is a cluster different from a network? In a network, participants look for how to make the most of what others are doing. In a cluster, participants are willing to re-orient their work, so as to better work with the other participants.
Experience-based knowledge New perspectives & ideas New Visions, Coalitions & action plans For example: If you are a construction company, be open to using new technologies. If you are a social cooperative, look away from providing standardized services and customizing what you do in order to better valorize the capabilities of the people they are assisting. And so on.

How to participate


  1. Recieve invitation from Ambassador
  2. Pick/Join a distrikt and study it
  3. Get invitation to video event from Game master
  4. Co-imagine how a scenario/proposal/happing plays out in the distrikt (in video chat run by Game master):
  5. Scribe adds the results into district design (and wiki)
  6. Community evaluates and develops best input
  7. Artists make kits (and extensions) based on best input


  • Sourcebook
  • Distrikt kits
  • Game Master kit (Reference materials for game masters
  • Extension kits
  • Event report


  1. Game Mechanics: Game architects design game mechanics and draft source book. Leads: Yudha & Navin

  2. Events and Scenarios: Collect or Design scenarios for things we want to throw into a distrikt and see what happens (e.g National Development Plan for radical decarbonisation, or implementation of donut economics principles). These are based on current areas of activity and priorities in different places/settings. These serve as reference materials for the game masters running the workshops during the live event. Leads: Tbd but Alberto needs to be involved.

  3. Hype machine: NGI and POPREBEL track curators invite people in key groups(for the respective research projects) to participate in the process. Lead: Nadia, we need to recruit people.

  4. Response design: Game master asks How does thing X work? Lots of people discuss and add contributions. Best of these are selected as to add to the pool of possible responses within a distrikt (.eg in monastry based distrikt, fasting could be response to food shortage because it is in the DNA…other economy and cultural iceberg = other unique responses. A scribe documents all discussions and extracts summaries of responses.

  5. Add updates to Distrikts: A scribe + community write the events, and best responses, into the history of the distrikt itself.

  6. Produce official event report for funders and partners.

  7. Produce design for cards, reference materials and game instructions for Witness.

  8. Crowdfunding for witness kit and expansion packs.


Date (tbc): November 2021

Formats: Everything takes place online. Presentations (12 mins + 40 min discussion) // Fishbowls (participatory panels) // Small group discussions // Plenaries // debate.

Program Curation:

  • Track 1: 1 Game architects, game masters, hypemakers (ambassadors), scribes and artists
  • Track 2: Researchers, think tank people/wonks, and jounalists.
  • Track 3: Edgeryders + consortia partners + other partners + + community + invited domain experts

A conference website: The preparation, calls for participation, program, activities, and outputs of the Edgeryders side will all be available and accessible online on a dedicated new website.

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ping @yudhanjaya @Joriam @ivan @amelia @hugi @alberto @trythis