THE MAKING OF THE GOD GAME
Winners Take All
There was things he stretched, but mainly he told the truth. That is nothing. I
never seen anybody but lied, one time or another.
— MARK TWAIN, ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN
The “Godgame,” the in-group term for an online computer game that over one hundred software engineers are developing at Electronic Arts, the in- dustry leader in the computer game business, is not designed for use by testosterone-driven males under the age of twenty-five. The designated players are social scientists, and their interactive playing field is a virtual planet Earth generated by sophisticated imaging software from photo- graphic data gathered by satellites and high-altitude reconnaissance air- craft. The players will be able to look down on this revolving planet and observe the environmental impacts of large-scale human activities by zooming in and out on any region from the tropics to the poles.
The goal in this high-stakes competition is to coordinate large-scale human activities in ways that will lead to the emergence of a sustainable global environment by articulating coherent and workable proposals for changing the institutional structures and processes that coordinate these activities. Equally remarkable, the social scientist players will be constantly reminded that this must be accomplished prior to the point at which large- scale changes in the ecosystem are projected to occur. Another anxiety- producing aspect of this game is that the amount of time that remains before these changes are likely to occur will not be arbitrary. This projec- tion will be made by a large group of internationally known environmen- tal scientists based on simulations of the global environment generated