Practical Utopian Dreaming

Buckminster Fuller

Buckminster Fuller was a dude. Bespectacled and be-suited ‘Bucky’ was also a futurist, inventor and architect, famed for his popularisation of the geodesic dome.

In the 1960s he proposed the bold idea of a World Game, a non-elitist tool designed to solve social problems for all humanity on board what he liked to call ‘Spaceship Earth’.  Inspired by his own contempt for 200 nations’ admirals steering our spaceship in different directions, he called for a global solution, a clear direction, one dictated by the imagination and problem-solving skills of those playing this new democratically-open World Game.

Alas, this was before the digital revolution, and the comms and databases needed for such a radical experiment simply didn’t exist at the time. But zip forward a few decades and the notion of his game-changing vision continues to ignite ideas in the collective imagination, spawning an army of playful utopian copycats.

Utopia_World Game

Heard of the YKON Game? Played at international art biennials and design festivals, it’s based on a simple thought: Imagine that the world is brought to a complete halt. Everything stops. No more business as usual. With the world being frozen, you and your fellow players can tinker with the world as you please. What will you change? How do you convince others to go along with your changes? And what about the consequences?

In 2013 YKON took it a step further, made a bee-line for Tito’s old summer residence on the Croatian island of Brioni and held The Summit For Practical Utopias. Bridging art, design and education, the island was transformed into a playground for collaboration, a 3 day reality game, where game rules, rather than summit conventions, defined the interactions. On the boat ride over, players were handed a home-made ‘pill’ who’s promised side-affects included forgetting the names of everyday items, the creation of new worlds, and a child-like willingness to suspend doubt.

A modern-day catalyst for utopian thinking? ‘Bucky’ would be pleased indeed. A crew of hopeful visionaries collectively daring to show what might be possible.  And let’s face it, we do need some new ideas in a world overrun by corruption and half-wits. As ‘Bucky’ once commented: “Human beings always do the most intelligent thing…after they’ve tried every stupid alternative and none of them have worked.” So maybe, just maybe, if enough game-changers come to the table, we might one day get to live the utopian dream. It just depends on how many stupid alternatives we have to get through first.∎

Want to play? Download the YKON game here: YKON

Comments are closed.