The investigative-interactive game Global Alternative is about developing a functioning alternative social and economic system on the basis of 12 game rules. The problems to be solved in the game are therefore those of a fictitious, but at the same time real possible world. For the time being, we simply call it the ‘New World’ in contrast to the ‘Old World’ or the ‘Real Present’.
This narrative is intended to provide a first impression of Global Alternative and the New World it presents. In Part I, we elaborate on how the system change came about. In Part II we dive with the protagonists Jonah, Toni and Micha into the New World, as it could present itself to the players after the already completed system change in the summer of 2028.
In all of this, it is particularly appealing that the New World as anticipated here is not located in a far-off future or even on another planet, or is even completely fictitious, but has quite realistically replaced our present world.
Some of the figures mentioned in the narrative – such as reductions in traffic or decarbonization – are estimates. They are marked with an asterisk. Only a simulation, as aimed at by means of the game, would allow relatively precise calculations of the changes.
Narrative – Part I
The year is 2028.
Global warming and the accompanying weather turbulences are already severely affecting all life on earth. As if in a dynamic vortex, the effects of the overexploitation of the earth’s natural resources are intertwined with those of the burning of fossil fuels, giving us our first inkling that the stability of natural conditions, as they have presented themselves to mankind throughout the entire history of civilization and allowed it to develop in the first place, may have been lost for good.
All measures taken by the states against climate change are proving to be ineffective, short-sighted or even counterproductive. Growth no longer exists in any of the economies, but it is all the more abundant in the market of problems and disasters. Devastating droughts and crop failures are causing refugee flows to swell daily and to a degree that has already led to drastic measures, especially by the rich nations. Economic and financial crises are ravaging the nations, civil wars are raging even in countries where this seemed unimaginable just a few years before. Saving the coral reefs is considered hopeless, and the collapse of the marine ecosystems may no longer be stopped, rendering one of the most important sources of food for mankind obsolete. The situation is topped by the fact, that the abrupt thawing of the permafrost, which will once again mean a gigantic release of greenhouse gases, has to be expected within the next two years.
Whereas previously wars were fought over fossil fuels and corresponding geopolitical positions of power, now the focus is increasingly back on food resources and, above all, water.
In a certain sense, the Stone Age greets.
However, the use of cyber weapons and, above all, the continuing threat of nuclear weapons is not Stone Age at all. While mankind narrowly escaped the use of nuclear weapons and the threat of nuclear winter in the course of the so-called Ukraine war, the arms race thereafter assumed bizarre proportions and thus once again set back the urgently needed measures to contain the damage to climate and nature.
It is becoming clear that only the immediate and total decarbonization can prolong humanity’s existence. The number of people calling for this on the streets already exceeds two billion.
This is a new dimension, both in terms of numbers and the content of the demands. Without ifs and buts, the criticism is directed against the globally operating economic system and the blind faith in progress of its representatives. The promises of the industrialized countries that they can solve the problems by means of free-market mechanisms are denounced as cynical and irresponsible eyewash.
Finally, there is a coordinated-global strike wave that abruptly brings the economies of all nations to their knees.
2028 thus proves to be the year in which the end of the world that once promised eternal growth, prosperity and freedom finally and drastically begins to take shape. A summit meeting in Sidney, Australia – one of the many major coastal cities already acutely threatened by rising sea levels – to which scientists from all over the world have invited representatives of all nations in August 2028, turns into a three-month crisis meeting. While people in the northern hemisphere suffer from an extremely hot summer with numerous fatalities, while gigantic forest fires rage in the USA, Russia, China and southern Europe, and a typhoon has devastated Taiwan, the participants, in an almost heroic and desperate act, come to the conclusion that only the transition to a global society free of ownership and domination can herald the eco-economic turnaround that can still prevent the worst (Sidney verdict in October 2028).
For the first time since the industrial revolution, the production of goods, technology and knowledge should no longer be generated and used for profit, but should serve solely to supply everyone. If industrialization once revolutionized production relations and created the market economy, communication and computer technology is now to herald the next revolution toward the organization of a society oriented toward the common good.
The plans are supported by an investigative simulation, in which it was proven that by means of a new kind of economy the containment of the climate change, the regeneration of nature and the world-wide satisfaction of the human needs on a decent prosperity level are possible. It has also been proven that the indispensability of money as a regulator of supply and demand, which is always invoked by the national economy, is invalid. The reason for this is that the possibilities offered by IT make it possible to organize the economy in a completely new way and such that it becomes possible to achieve reasonable, demand coordinated production worldwide. Projects of global interest can now be carried out in a coordinated and efficient manner, since there are no longer any national or corporate interests, monopolies or patents standing in the way. These include farming methods, water conservation and use, reforestation, reclamation of both natural habitats and arable land, the management of fossil energy sources and raw materials, and also the development of a sustainably operated transport and telecommunications network.
In the Sidney verdict, 12 rules are laid down that are fundamental and at the same time point the way to the desired change:
- There is no money and no universally valid payment equivalent.
- There is ownership, but no property – not even of intellectual products.
- There are no political structures (states, governments, officials, committees, etc.), no leadership structures and no hierarchies.
- People organize themselves in commons, which in turn belong to provinces, regions, continents and parts of the world; the allocation is primarily of nominal importance.
- All raw materials, manufactured products and services extracted wherever are recorded in a global pool register and can be retrieved as needed (and according to logistically-environmentally compatible standards)
- Each commons endeavors to make one or more contributions to the global pool; however, there is no compulsion to do so
- The production of goods, information, knowledge and services, as well as the extraction of raw materials, which can usually only be accomplished in a division of labor, is carried out in projects, in consultation with other projects and in accordance with the needs assessment
- All required goods and services as well as technical and scientific knowledge are included in the pool
- Regional and cultural characteristics such as languages, traditions, manufacturing techniques, religions, etc. are considered important and valued contributions to human society
Here are a few excerpts from the comprehensive verdict:
Since every human being must realize that he only borrows nature and the things that can be produced by means of it for the duration of his life, the principle of ownership is abolished.
Ownership in the sense of the enjoyment of the material goods needed in everyday life and important for the preservation of health, privacy and spiritual interests is regarded as a basic prerequisite for the prosperous development of each individual. The goal and natural interest of any commons community should therefore be to guarantee these possessions.
The preservation of the conditions of life on the planet has the highest priority and is the natural goal of every commons. This means
- the conscious and thoughtful use of resources, supported by scientific analysis and calculations
- the preservation or restoration of natural habitats and eco-intelligent cultivated areas
- the revival of the psychological, social and cognitive qualities of interaction based on community, cooperation and productive exchange.
With the abolition of market-based production, in which wear and tear and waste were the basis of profit maximization, the practical utility of things – their use value – as well as their longevity and functionality are once again given the status they deserve.
The transition from the capitalist system to the new ‘world order’ initially requires only a few specifications to be met. But despite numerous studies and projections, it is difficult to predict exactly how the restructuring will take place and what difficulties can be expected.
Caution is the watchword within the radicality of change.
At the beginning of the restructuring, the formation of Meta Projects that maintain power and network connections and ensure that global communications function is a top priority.
Local Projects (= self-organized, hierarchy-free groups with a maximum size of 300 people) are formed within the commons to organize production, distribution and the maintenance of infrastructure. Their task is to use the local conditions – which include the geographic-climatic ones as well as previous production sites and processes – to make contributions to the pool. The conversion to an ecologically sustainable production method is in the interest of every Local Project and every commons.
It is one of the tasks of a commons to check the local conditions to see which Local Project they are suitable for.
All products – including services, research results and cultural assets – are added to the global pool as contributions.
Each commons ensures through its Local Projects that contributions are made to the pool. In addition, it must ensure the maintenance or expansion of its own infrastructure. In turn, people join together in cross-territorial Meta Projects, e.g. to maintain transportation and communications, to carry out scientific projects, analyses and global studies, etc.
In principle, every commons has access to the global pool, even if it does not succeed in making its own contributions. It is assumed that non-contribution always has serious reasons – such as natural disasters – and deprivation merely stands in the way of solving local problems.
Full access to education, cultural goods and technical developments in every commons should be strived for.
Consistent access to education and ‘world knowledge’ suggests that populations will remain numerically stable and that there will be a strong interest in maintaining homeostasis with nature and within societies once achieved.
So far a few excerpts from the extensive verdict. What is still worth mentioning at this point is the fact that the 2027 change is initiated with maximum discomfort. How could it be otherwise, as after all – and despite simulation – it is ultimately not foreseeable how things will develop. What will happen when none of the centuries-old rules of the game apply anymore, when structures of rule disappear, when even competition between nations no longer exists? Doesn’t that simply mean unholy chaos?
Global Alternative Part II:
We are now back in the year 2022, and Liz and Jonah want to join in. A game about solving the hopeless problems on the planet … ?, about creating a new kind of society … ? – yes, that appeals to both of them.
They go to the menu. First they call up the tutorial ‘Getting started’. Here they are introduced to the two levels on which they can participate in the game. The first level is that of the allmende. A world map appears, on which the already existing allmende are displayed. If you tap on one, you get a clear amount of important information about it on an info panel: Number of members, existing projects, planned projects, geographical location, infrastructure, climate, natural features, etc. – and then possibly decide on one. However, there is also the possibility to create a profile of oneself (what can I do, what do I want, what is important to me) and receive suggestions for allmende that best fit the profile.
The second level is that of metaprojects. Metaprojects deal with transregional and global tasks, for example, maintaining the communications network, organizing transportation, or coordinating the world’s resource holdings. In scientific metaprojects, for example, relevant biogeological and meteorological data are collected and corresponding ecologically appropriate use and application models are worked out, in exchange with the respective local allmende, which is particularly important for agriculture and water supply. In meta-projects, however, one also deals with something like the management of conflicts between the allmende, allmende members or also project members and the joint elaboration of solution models. Andandand …
Jonah and Liz have now decided on the first level. Things get more difficult, though, when it comes to finding a allmende. Jonah would like to join one overseas, Liz thinks more familiar terrain might make it easier to get started. And convinces Jonah. So they first choose ‘Europe’ (see 4th rule), tap on different allmende there, read the info boards about them and finally decide on the allmende ‘Bonjour’ in a medium-sized city. If they don’t like it there they can of course switch to another one. If that were the case, Jonah would get a turn and they would be looking for South America.
Liz taps ‘Bonjour’ and a bird’s eye view image of the city appears with a prompt to listen to a short tutorial. In it, the rules of the game are introduced and briefly explained to them. It is suggested that they sign in to the allmende and ask if a guide is available (if not at the moment, they can make an appointment and may have to wait a little longer). Allmende guides are always members of the respective allmende who are happy to share their knowledge and also keep up to date with the latest developments.
Of course, they could also explore the allmende on their own. That would be more exhausting and less productive, but then there would be no waiting time.
And as it happens in a story: Liz and Jonah are lucky! Two allmende members come forward at the same time. Cheerfully they go to ‘My personal start’.
And abruptly find themselves in a square lined with 3-4 story buildings with a street running past. They look around. Apparently it is early autumn – just like where Jonah’s PC stands …
They are greeted by Toni and Micha.
Micha: Hi Liz, hi Jonah. Welcome to the New World! To be more precise: to Bonjour and our district allmende! What would you like to do first? Shall we show you around our district and tell you something about the community at the same time?
Liz: Hello Toni, hello Micha! Sure, we’d love to. We already know a bit about Bonjour from the information board, but we’re really happy that you have time to show us around.
Micha smiles: Great. She spreads her arms. Maybe you’d like to take a look around right now? We’re in one of the many little squares the city has now.
Jonah and Liz spin around once. The square itself isn’t particularly large – it’s one that’s common in the smaller towns of their origin. The tops of two church steeples peek out from behind the houses that partially surround the square, competing for attention with a few taller buildings. To one side, a few cultivated hills can be seen, with a radio tower in the background. In the distance, several wind turbines can be seen on some sort of plateau.
Jonah: Hm, you can’t see the cooling towers of the nuclear power plant from here?
Micha and Toni nod.
Micha: No, not from here. Are you interested in the nuclear power plant? – that is, the former one! You probably already know that there is actually not a single nuclear power plant operating in the New World anymore? The decision was made after all projects dealing with energy supply worldwide had submitted their plans, which included both the existing capacities and the expansion of mainly photovoltaic, geothermal and biothermal plants that could be realized within a year. That was quite something! We here had to deal with zero shortages, but there were regions where electricity had to be heavily managed for several months.
Toni: What we still have to deal with now, of course, is the radiating legacy that the nuclear age has left us. We have made some progress with the dismantling of our nuclear power plant in the last few months, but the task to be accomplished is still enormous.
Jonah: But does that mean that the affected allmende will have to deal with it alone?
Toni: No, of course not. There’s no such thing anymore … – I mean that you have to cope alone with problems that ultimately affect everyone. The dismantling of nuclear power plants and the storage of nuclear waste are among the global challenges, and they are being dealt with accordingly. So there is a meta-project that is responsible for that, that processes the information and coordinates the work. So we have a lot of help from experts, engineers and scientists and even volunteers from far-flung allmende. The goal of creating a nuclear-free world is so important and frees humanity from such a great burden that the commitment is very high.
Micha: Well, you’re on a super topic right away … – are you somehow specifically interested in nuclear power, Jonah? And you, Liz, maybe also?
Liz shakes her head: No, not me.
Jonah: Well, I’m a mechanic and I’ve worked in a nuclear power plant before. I read a lot about it before and after. But honestly, for now, I’m curious about Bonjour – he turns to Liz – and I’m sure you are too, right? We can leave the nuclear thing aside for now? Besides, the nuclear problem is only one of many.
Micha: You are right. Unfortunately.
Toni: What is your first impression when you look around here?
Liz: Hm. On the one hand, everything seems somehow familiar … – no wonder, we even stayed in our own country. Blinks. Oh, sorry, there are no more countries here … – so let’s say: we stayed in a familiar region. She lets her gaze wander over the square once again. And yet there is also much … – different.
On the houses all around, one or the other remnant of the former business world can still be seen: Illuminated signs, for example, which admittedly no longer shine, and signs with names like Backwerk, Tchibo, Galerie Kaufhof etc. What is inside them now is not recognizable at first glance. One of the buildings still houses an ATM in its outer wall, half overgrown by ivy. In general, there are a lot of plants, which makes everything seem loosened up. Under several large plane trees and a cedar tree, there are benches and tables and other places to sit and lie down. Two ping-pong tables, a boules court, a long, covered sandbox and a few pieces of gymnastic equipment complete the picture.
On the opposite side of the square, a small area is fenced off. Jonah points to it.
Jonah: What’s being done there?
Toni: Cable work. That row of houses over there doesn’t have internet access right now. That’s not so dramatic, because people are helping each other out, but the requirement is nevertheless a high reliability. After all, this is the access to all relevant data, to the work of the projects and the meta-projects and the worldwide ongoing discussions about the most diverse contents. Overall, though, the network seems to be less used than it used to be.
Liz: Why? Don’t tell me there are no more games!?
Their guides grin.
Micha: That would be something! – we are in a future game here, where there are no more games?! Really …! Looks at Liz, but then shrugs his shoulders. However, computer games have not yet been a topic! – so we can’t tell you anything concrete about it. I would strongly suspect, however, that there are games in the New World, too. Programming belongs to the fixed educational offers, anyone can learn it here at any time.
But here, in the simulation of the New World, the main thing is to work together to make a world society with a new kind of economy work. And one that gets to grips with as many of the problems as possible that are currently threatening the Real Presence. At the same time, life in the New World should be of a high quality of existence. That’s quite a challenge!
Toni: Consequently, the first goals we set ourselves after the change were a drastic and sustained curbing of CO2 emissions to slow or even stop climate change, and an equally drastic curbing of resource consumption. So, as you may have read, production has been completely transformed and a pool system has been put in place to capture labor contributions from around the world, as well as existing requests for products, assistance, projects, etc.
Jonah: Somehow I can’t quite picture that yet. But well, that’s what I’m here for: to figure out how it works. And then to possibly contribute to making it work somehow.
Toni: Yes, and of course we are very happy about that. By the way, it’s always like that with the newcomers: At first they think that an economy is something highly complicated …- only to realize that it’s much simpler than they thought. We all come from a Real Presence whose complexity even increases daily. In the New World tested here, on the other hand, many things are surprisingly easy to oversee. And life is quite decelerated.
Jonah looks around again: Well, I’m curious. But tell me: is it always so quiet here? It’s downright eerie.
Micha laughs: You guys arrived right at lunchtime, that means most people eat, and since today is a cooler day, they do so inside. That’s about to …
The unmistakable tinkling of a streetcar can be heard, and Jonah turns around. A streetcar is leisurely approaching.
Toni: Come on, let’s get off the tracks.
Jonah: Great, so there’s a streetcar here!
Toni: Yes. Keeping the streetcar was one of our first Trans Allmende resolutions after the Great Transformation. There is now a project to lay new tracks in the allmende, and another that has joined a meta-project to build railcars and wagons. But other than that, there’s not much traffic here, as you’re about to find out. So even after dinner time.
Liz: So most of them are home now?
Toni: At home? – No, only very few people eat there anymore. There are communal kitchens everywhere here. But of course, if you want, you can prepare your own food at home. Eating at the taberna saves a lot of energy, though.
Liz: So that’s how it is. I don’t like to cook anyway (smiles at Jonah) and I like to be catered to. But about the wagons … – We’ve read what a metaproject is. How does your allmende contribute to the production of the wagons? How does that work?
Micha: Two of our allmende are engineers in product assurance. In addition, we use a plant on our premises to manufacture the windows for the wagons.
Jonah: I see. I certainly would like to see that. Would that be possible? Ans is there such a thing as a main plant?
Micha: Sure, everything has to be assembled somewhere. It’s located in a city about 100 km away. Because our commonwealth works closely together on window production and because of the expertise of two of our people, a transporter goes there every three days.
Liz: Hmm. Wouldn’t it make more sense for them to live right there? Laughs. You see, I’m trying to think ecologically!
Micha: Well, the finished windows are transported there anyway. So in this case the ecological balance is right. In addition, four young people from the local allmende are also traveling with us at the moment, who are doing some kind of training there and would like to acquire some special knowledge.
Jonah: Training … – uh, does that work the same way as it does here? I mean, like in the Real Presence?
Toni: Oh dear, no! This really doesn’t have much to do with the compulsory event in our Real Presence. If you want, we can just go to our allmende school later. This is a school for everyone, so to speak. Then, if you’re interested, you can get an impression of the ideas for new forms of teaching that have come together so far and how they are being implemented.
Liz: Ideas are all well and good. But how can you prove in a simulation that they work?
Micha: Exactly, that is indeed a problem. Many things are easy to simulate, but school is one of the areas where it’s difficult. Interestingly enough, the ideas discussed here are now being tested in the real world … – isn’t that great? So the New World gets feedback from the Real Presence not only in the form of data and calculations, but also from projects that have already been realized on a trial basis …
Liz: Great! And the Real Presence gets ideas from the New World …
Toni: And that’s where it’s starting to emerge: Wow, the difference to what we had before is gigantic … At first I thought: School is school! But now I have to admit that I would really like to be a kid here and go to school again. Not to mention the freedom children have now everywhere … – learning is completely different here. Here no one HAS to know, but here one WANTS to know. Learning and understanding something is fun, and it’s also a pleasure to do it together with others. Everyone can attend school here, regardless of age, and there is no longer any difference between school, university and workshop. So it could be that not only is the five-year-old just learning to read, but there’s a fifty-year-old sitting next to her who would like to catch up. And it could also be that a seventeen-year-old is sitting next to a seventy-year-old in the biology seminar. And it could be that afterwards the seventy-year-old shows others in a workshop how tongue and groove work. And so on.
Micha: Well, what used to be school, apprenticeship and university is organized quite differently here. Basically, the entire range of courses is open to everyone, regardless of age or previous education. A meta-project is responsible for the organization, which you can also contact as a newcomer if you have any questions.
Jonah: That’s interesting. So now I could listen to philosophy lectures, for example, and sit next to a ten-year-old or a hundred-year-old? Or math? And then I could take a chemistry class, or a sewing class? Or teach electrical engineering? Cool!
Toni laughs: Yes, exactly. That’s great, isn’t it? Some courses are still under construction, but the areas of knowledge you just mentioned are actually all in full swing, including the sewing course! Apart from that, we are in the process of constantly expanding what we offer. However, the premises will soon no longer be sufficient, which is why the former tax office is currently being converted for this purpose. There wasn’t a university or college here in town, so we didn’t have the buildings and equipment. But to answer your question again: in principle you can learn and study whatever you want. You have plenty of time for that.
Liz: Yes, we have already read that – only 12 hours per week. And it’s supposed to get even less! That’s so crazy!
Toni: It is. Okay, now, one and a half years after the change, it can happen that many people suddenly have to pitch in to get a project off the ground, or because there is a problem with the organization. In such a case it could happen that the 12 hours have to be exceeded. But that is already the exception.
Jonah: Okay, sure, I can kind of imagine that. What I can imagine less: How does something like that work in a game? I mean, I would be overjoyed to only have to work 12 hours a week in my real working world, but that’s not how it is, which is why I can’t possibly invest 12 hours in the game here.
Toni: It’s good that you ask the question. Work and production processes in the game are predominantly represented in a formalized way. Let’s illustrate this with an example. Let’s say you wanted to participate in securing the power supply in Bonjour. You are then immediately informed about the state of affairs: this and that has been done so far with so and so many people involved, the following still has to be done, we are dealing with this and that problem … – etc. The project invites you to contribute your own reflections and suggestions and also to name the number of hours that you – in the game – would be willing to work on the project.
Jonah: And how do you know … – oh, sure: From experience data and by means of logarithms it is calculated how much working time is needed and what materials are required. Right?
Toni: Exactly. On the other hand, one or the other production site is also represented in the game. Like our window production, for example. Or workshops that exist here in the city. The players can decide whether something like that is shown or whether a production facility is only shown in the form of data and work processes. The atmosphere of a city district depends, of course, from being able to see what’s being done there. People want to be able to see that.
Jonah: Back to the working process. What to do if those involved disagree with regard to the methods, materials and so on?
Toni: Yeah, indeed this happens occasionally. However, it is the solution of a problem that’s at stake and not personal superiority or ambitions for a career! Thus differences are quickly settled in most cases. If this isn’t the case, they have to be settled by discussion or another method all those involved agree on.
A delivery truck drives by. Liz looks at it with interest because it is audibly a diesel but is distracted by a flood of voices that suddenly opens up behind it. She turns around. Adults, children and teenagers are just leaving one of the buildings. Suddenly there is life in the square. Under one of the plane trees, a few adults and teenagers gather smaller children around them and disappear with them into a neighbouring building. Even from a distance, you can see that it’s colourful – not only the windows are painted, but also the outside wall.
Liz points to the building: Is that a kindergarten?
Toni: Hm, yes, you can call it that, even if the garden is only a part of it.
Micha laughing: Gee Toni, have you already forgotten that this is a term from the Old World and had pretty little to do with garden?
Toni scratches his head.
Toni: Oh, yeah, sure. But isn#t it a nice word: Kinder-Garten. I’ve just never been in one, as a kid, I mean. Okay, Liz, this is actually an offer for the very young and their parents. There is a morning and an afternoon program, and parents and children are completely free to choose whether to take advantage of it. For parents, grandparents and whoever else takes care of the children, it is of course just right when they are doing their chosen allmende tasks or for whatever other reason. Mostly however it is our youngest ones themselves who want to go there.
But to come back to Jonah’s question about the projections: Behind the game is a whole team of scientists, mathematicians, programmers, etc., who calculate the consequences of the decisions made and the results of people working together. In that way the game is always up to date.
Jonah: Uh-huh. And what about the so-called problems that need to be solved?
Micha: First of all, we do research and correspond with other projects to see what previous approaches to solving them exist and whether any of them can be implemented under the given conditions. If not – and sometimes new problems arise – we first discuss the problem in a local group and try to find a solution. If this is not possible, the search for a solution is continued globally.
Jonah: How can a real problem even appear in the game? I mean, how is that even possible?
There is now a real hustle and bustle in the square, a group of children and young people run past and Jonah and Liz look after them with smiles. Bicycles, e- and pedal scooters, inline skaters, handicapped vehicles and similar means of transportation appear. Liz remembers the van from earlier, which, from the sound of it, was running on diesel.
Liz: There was a diesel delivery truck there earlier. At least that’s what it sounded like. So you haven’t completely switched to e-motors here yet and are even still using diesel…?
Toni: That’s how it is – we haven’t yet completely switched over to electric motors. It is always a question of deciding whether or not to use a technology that is actually backward. When the system changed, there were already a lot of e-cars, but hardly any e-vans and no e-trucks at all, because the battery weight problem had still not been satisfactorily solved. In fact, however, traffic in the New World has already shrunk so significantly – by more than 70%* compared to the Old World – that the use of diesel-powered vans is of no consequence. At the same time, heavy work is being done on alternatives. Until then, a small share of fossil fuels in transportation is still accepted. At present, however, the share of electricity from renewable energy sources is approaching 85%* worldwide. That is, so shortly after the change, enormously! The rest is still gas-fired power generation, with a decreasing tendency, of course.
Jonah: Not bad. How did you manage that?
Micha: Mainly by changing production and greatly reducing traffic. Meanwhile, the expansion of renewables is still struggling because demand skyrocketed so much in one fell swoop. Worldwide, more than 600* manufacturing facilities for wind, solar, air and geothermal have either been built or are still being built.
Liz: Kind of logical. But tell me, can’t we go further? I’m so curious about Bonjour!
Toni: Liz, you are so right: enough chatter! Micha, we should show them more of the city now.
The four of them start walking, cross the square and finally turn into a wide street. Here you can hear machines rumbling, but also hammering and sawing and all the noise associated with construction work.
Jonah: Well, there’s a lot going on. Is there so much construction going on here? And why?
Micha: Well, not so much building as rebuilding. There are a lot of buildings from the old world that have become vacant, for example stores, banks, insurance companies and offices. Most of them have already been converted into living space, community workshops, tabernas and studios, but there is still a lot going on. Which means interior walls have to be torn down and redrawn, sanitary facilities have to be installed or rebuilt, and sometimes other windows have to be put in. However, these construction measures are nothing compared to the building volume of the Old World, that has to be said. In the Real Presence, more than 50% of the resources are consumed for building construction, the global resource consumption in the New World is just 17%*. And that should go down even more once the rebuilding is done.
They walk through several streets, pass a number of studios and small workshops, living space that seems to extend onto the street, fountains and secluded corners. Everywhere asphalt was removed to gain free space for climbing plants and espalier fruit, Micha explains. However, the humus had to be heavily worked into the soil to make it work. Soil that has been sealed for a long time is practically dead.
Finally, they reach another place that is apparently used for urban gardening, among other things. In addition to small cultivation areas, there are many raised beds, paths in between, and also arbors with benches and tables. Individuals and groups work on the beds or occupy the arbors, children run around. Jonah, Liz, Micha and Toni walk leisurely through it. Liz is obviously very taken, while Jonah seems rather indifferent.
Liz: This is really pretty here. And in the middle of the city!
Micha: Shall we sit down for a while? Look, that arbor over there is vacant.
They sit down and watch the hustle and bustle around them for a while. A boy comes running up and stands in front of them, red-cheeked and grinning: I should ask you if you would like something to drink he says.
With pleasure, Liz says immediately. The others nod in agreement.
Be right back, says the boy. Only moments later he comes with a pitcher of water and puts it on the table, runs away and is back shortly after with four cups.
Before the four of them can even thank him, he’s gone again.
Liz looks a bit puzzled, then takes a sip: “That feels good. Really funny – how did he come up with the idea of bringing us something?
Micha: Oh, that’s rather common here. They’ve seen that we’re showing new people around, and they want to make a bit of an impression.
Liz and Jonah laugh.
Jonah: It works. I’m very impressed! He spreads his arms. And here
are you improving the food situation?
Toni: That’s right – here, and in a few other places in or near the city. These are not projects, though, but everyone cares as he or she likes.
Liz: Curious question: How will all this be implemented in terms of a game? All the people you see here now – are they players, their avatars or is this a prefabricated standard scene?
Toni: At the beginning of the game, when it was still very new, blank players, as we call them here, were used. In the meantime, the number of players is so high that this is hardly necessary anymore, which means that most of the present figures present represent real players. If you had signed up for an hour of Urban Gardening today, you might be here right now harvesting cabbage and beet and bringing them to the community kitchen. Because, of course, that’s what it’s all about here: contributing to making the overall supply work.
Jonah: So what percentage of the food supply is urban gardening?
Micha: Gee, I’m not sure about that right now … – do you know, Toni?
Toni: I think I read something about 30 to 40 percent. But maybe that’s the amount we’re aiming for … – the areas are to be greatly expanded and balconies and house walls are to be included even more. But no, I don’t know exactly … – but what are diagrams for? If you go to Data, Diagrams, Statistics in the Agriculture section of Global Alternative you will certainly find a lot of interesting stuff.
Liz: I definitely want to go out to the countryside and see how farming is done here. Super ecological, I’m sure! She smiles.
Micha: Sure, that’s the only reasonable way out of the trap of extensive agriculture as it is practiced in the real world. But honestly, this is a huge topic, and this much is also certain: the changeover won’t happen overnight. What is absolutely exciting is the enormous amount of data, contributions and experience reports from fellow players from all over the world. Thus, a good overview can be gained here in the game about all cultivation areas on the planet, about cultivation methods, soil reclamation, water and climate conditions and much, much more. There is a lively exchange between biologists, geologists and agronomists and the local people, and the common goal is the reclamation of healthy soils and a rather small-scale, varied cultivation with small machines. But as I said, it’s probably going to take years to see an overall success.
Jonah: Sounds pretty good already, though. Facing global warming, the food supply is one of the decisive problems in the Real Presence. One billion people are starving now, but how many will do so in the future? And how many will migrate for that reason?
Toni: That’s true, we don’t need to talk about those breath-taking developments in the Real Presence. I guess, everyone who is participating in Global Future is very aware of that. But in the game it can be shown how the efforts to stop the warming bear fruit. Of course, we already have to live with the temperatures and weather extremes that have risen until now, but at least there is a chance that temperatures will not rise any further. Not only the conversion of agriculture, but also the conversion of production as a whole does contribute enormously to this. For example, it is remarkable how much of what was urgently needed in the Old World is simply no longer needed in the New World. Just think of everything that was necessary just to maintain the monetary system: all the banks and insurance companies, the stores, department stores, tax offices, law firms, financial consultancies, offices and sales outlets, together with their equipment, furniture and other utensils. By the way, the list could be continued for a long time. Traffic was also largely due to the way of doing business and how work was organized. All this is gone – without replacement! Just like the whole luxury sector.
Liz: According to the latest Oxfam news, the living style of multimillionaires contributes to the greenhouse emissions to an extent that makes you shake.
Jonah: Hm, I had never thought about it that way … But it’s true once you think about it. He rubs his nose thoughtfully and looks at Liz. It’s really crazy what capitalism causes. A totally inflated consumption system.
Micha: In addition, because working people have little time, they buy a bunch of technology that is supposed to save them time and make their lives a little easier. The car is at the top of the list, but also household appliances and lots of consumer electronics.
Toni: In the New World, rush hours don’t exist any more. People usually have their work assignments close by, and logically there is no more business travel, including flying.
Jonah: Oha. Will there be any air travel at all then? And what about shipping?
Toni grins: Yes, yes, they still exist, the airplanes! But in fact we’ve seen a great decline in air travel, especially passenger air travel. And, of course, there are no more military aircraft movements, which also weighs heavily on the balance sheet. However, the decline in passenger air traffic is mainly due to the fact that the vast majority of people have agreed to give up air travel for three years in order to achieve the carbon turnaround. That’s easier fictitiously than in real life, isn’t it? But most of the players seem to identify strongly with their roles here, so it could well be that they would make the same decision in real life.
Jonah: Hmm. And what about the shipping?
Toni: At the moment there are still quite a few freighters and also container ships on the way to cut the acute shortage of pharmaceutical and medical products, technology and sometimes also seeds and food in some regions. However, it is already obvious that every region is interested in covering its needs as quickly as possible through its own production. The transfer of know-how is booming, I can tell! It is already foreseeable that marine cargo traffic will pretty soon decline sharply, and there are already initial projects dealing with questions of the future use of these giants or how they could be recycled.
Instead, sailers are being built right now in shipyards all over the world! And they are beautiful. In January I’ll be moving to an allmende in South Africa, and guess how I’m getting there?
Liz: I’m coming with you! Jonah looks at her in some irritation, then grins.
Jonah: Okay, me too. On one of those beautiful sailers! Oh man, would I love to experience that for real …
Liz muses: How many freighters and container ships are actually on the move right now? – in the Real Presence, I mean. Does anyone know?
Toni: No, not for sure. I just know that in the Real Presence its increasing by 20 % every ten years.
Liz: For heaven’s sake, that’s globalization! Almost unimaginable! But tell me, after the Great Transformation, there must have been – and probably still is, you mentioned it already – an enormous pent-up demand, especially in the poor and isolated regions! I only have to think of the slums in so many African cities and all the people worldwide who now not only don’t want to go hungry anymore, but also want access to clean water, a decent roof over their heads, good clothing, furniture and sanitary facilities …
Toni nods: That’s right, in terms of pent-up demand. You can imagine what was going on in a city like Mumbai after the Great Transformation. Or Mexico City! – these megacities with sometimes miserable supplies. Our fellow players there wrote that only the quick formation of allmendes, clearcut goals and a good dose of enthusiasm prevented the great chaos, so that the far-reaching measures in the infrastructure could be undertaken in a coordinated manner. In the game, this was done in a relatively disciplined way, but it is questionable whether it would be the same in reality.
Micha: Unless you’ve already learned from a game …
Toni: So yeah, there was a high level of need in the previously poor regions, with food and clean water at the top of the list. And we are still far from having solved all the problems … – we know that, because in the game only solutions that – based on data and calculations – prove to be realistic are acknowledged. However, there is a lively collaboration between local people and scientists, and both sides benefit from each other. A great deal of information and also knowledge that was previously inaccessible to scientists is coming in via the inhabitants of the regions. We now have holistic approaches that bring together the factual conditions of an area and its traditional knowledge with that of modern engineers, geologists, biologists and agricultural scientists. The aim is to find optimal solutions, and every progress in that strengthens the world community as a whole, that must never be forgotten.
Liz: So how does this work with the pools? It almost reads as if there’s some kind of Ebay communism going on.
Toni and Micha laugh out loud.
Micha: Cool! – Ebay communism. I’ll have to remember that.
Toni grins: Well, that’s not entirely wrong. It’s just that there’s no money flowing, and no profits are made. Maybe Ebay Paradise would be more appropriate … Yes, so how does that work, how can people all over the world have everything they need … – that’s your question, isn’t it?
Toni: First of all: it doesn’t work, at least not the way our current Western consumerism is suggesting it. In The Real Presence, you order something, and bang, a few days later the new cell phone, the game console, the dream bed and so on is there – IF you can pay for it. Otherwise, soon trouble is coming up.
In the New World, however, all data on resources, manufacturing locations, products and production processes, transport options, ecological constraints, logistics and so on are processed by algorithms, the results being . Everybody has access to all data and thus can easily find out what which allmende produce, what is possible where and how and with what effort, which supply priorities and also deficits exist in the respective allmende, what know-how is needed where to create a local production facility? – and so on. So you get to know, for instance, that an allmende in a former developing country needs A and B and C to get self-sufficiency going, support the regeneration of nature and make contributions to the Pool. Or an allmende in former Canada needs D in order to produce E and F which is strongly needed in the Pool.
Micha: What’s interesting in that context and especially with regard to the former poor countries: as soon as the constraints implemented by their former states and economics have gone, the age-old knowledge of the sensible use of local resources reawakens.
Liz: But how can nature be restored and conserved when there’s so much pent-up demand?
Jonah: And shouldn’t every allmende contribute to the pool?
Toni: Okay, first things first. One of the rather surprising developments: local resource extraction and resource consumption has decreased! How is that possible? Well, obviously many of the local resources were previously exported directly or put into the production of export goods – these earth regions were really fleeced by the industrialized countries. Now, they can once again focus on traditional, sustainable production methods and innovatively work on new ones that allow local people to shape their world the way nature allows. In agriculture, for example, crops and cultivation methods that were thought to have been forgotten are coming back into use. This is exciting because it also demonstrates well the concrete benefits of turning away from industrial agriculture.
Regarding the pool contribution: No contribution can be expected from allmendes that have just escaped starvation. And so far that’s not been a problem. But it is amazing how fast the situation changes due to the efforts I mentioned. Relatively quickly, contributions are made, often from initially traditional handicraft products, and as soon as an agricultural plus is produced, it flows into the pool as a contribution. Once the products are in there, they are matched with demand and the LCA for transport is calculated. At the moment, we are doing quite well with a calculation model called Quo vadis, but there is definitely room for improvement.
That was a lot of information, and everyone is silent, drinking from their cups and enjoying a few rays of sunlight falling through the autumn coloured leaves of the vine surrounding the arbour. There are no grapes to be seen, so they must have already been harvested. Toni refills everyone’s water.
Liz: When I think about it … Well, let me put it like this: All of this – agriculture, the use of materials and the demand for them, the extraction and use of resources – all of this can be tracked very well in the New World, right? In this way, it can be calculated what an optimally balanced extraction, production and consumption quantity is – locally, regionally and globally. And also what needs to be done to ensure that there is neither overexploitation nor shortage. Did I get that right?
Toni: Perfect – I couldn’t have said it better!
Jonah: Recycling certainly plays a big role in this, doesn’t it?
Micha: That’s for sure! To some extent the devices produced in the Old World currently still supply us quite well with what is needed for the production of new devices. Later on these will also be recycled. It may be possible to create a relatively closed loop so that the demand for rare earths, for example, can be greatly reduced. But we’ll see how things develop in this regard in the future.
Jonah: Actually, does it make sense to want to produce everything everywhere? Somehow it doesn’t make sense to me.
Toni: A very correct and important objection. For some items it makes sense, but others it doesn’t. So far, we know for sure that it is advantageous for allmendes working together in large regions in order to provide the basic food needs themselves. In many allmendes the crafts have also flourished again such that basic equipment such as dishes, some clothes, furniture and also the one or other hygiene items is produced locally.
Micha: That just occurs to me … – shoes don’t belong to them, do they? He looks at Toni.
Toni: No, in the case of shoes it has turned out that it is clearly more ecological to manufacture them on a larger production scale. However, regional furniture production appears to have a pretty good balance sheet. And as far as building materials are concerned, almost every region has something to offer without ruining nature. On the other hand, PV modules, big machines, computers, ships and air crafts, some pharmaceuticals and so on are manufactured at only a limited number of locations on each continent. In any case, whatever is not produced locally is then put into the pool network as a demand.
Micha: And of course it can make sense from an ecological point of view to transport products over long distances, exactly when it makes no sense to set up production for something that is either already produced in abundance elsewhere or whose production is very demanding. If the demand is higher than the supply, new considerations must be made, of course. In this case a request is sent to all allmendes that come into consideration in terms of requirements, asking whether they could imagine setting up this type of production. If the answer is yes, the allmende or the association of local allmendes will receive all the help they can get … – from materials to skilled workers and know-how to temporary support through work assignments from other allmendes.
Toni: Heh, there is something more about production, especially with regard to electronic items: All devices are produced in such a durable way that they work for many decades and are always easy to update!
Jonah: That sounds really good! In the REAL world, breaking points and poor quality are a daily nuisance! A real mess, how in the production the decay is so to speak already inserted! There profit and resources destruction go übelst hand in hand. Well, as in so many other areas also. For example, the destruction of tropical forests for the cultivation of palm oil or fuel-supplying plants or animal feed. Or for cattle farming. He sighs.
I just remembered my question about the problems and how they can be expressed in a game at all.
Micha: Oh dear, I forgot all about that. There are so many issues …! Hm, well, I’ll give you an example. Since we were talking about nuclear power plants … – there is a current problem. Our nuclear power plant decommissioning project has announced that the river water, which is used to cool the fuel elements in the decay ponds, has heated up so much during this year’s hot summer that it is increasingly unsuitable for cooling. Currently, the project does not know how to solve the problem. A first round of ideas has been run and will be presented soon, and feasibility tests are still running – via projections. In addition, the problem – including numerous data and information on the local biogeological conditions – will be put on the Pool-WEB and thus a request will be made to all other nuclear power plant projects.
Jonah: Fabulous. That means empirical plus scientific values are coming in from all over the world?
Micha: That’s right.
Jonah: But isn’t there a problem? In the Real Presence, most countries don’t want to show their cards, especially not on such a sensitive topic as nuclear power, do they? But whrer are th data you are using from? – from the Real Presence, don’t they?
Micha: For certain ranges you are certainly right there. In the Real Presence, everything has to be subordinated to the competing interests, especially economic and national ones. In the case of nuclear energy it becomes so obvious how unhappily interwoven national, economic and military interests are. Isn’t it generally known that nuclear energy is a high-risk technology? – thus in the Real Presence it is consciously accepted that hundreds of thousands of people will be fatally contaminated in the event of a super accident and that cancer will increase drastically over several generations. It’s crazy. And that’s not to mention the problem of disposing the highly radioactive waste, which is also unsolved in the Real Presence and which we now have to deal with here. The game is perhaps a good forum for raising awareness of all this. But anyway: There are enough atomic physicists, engineers and other atomic experts who help us here a lot with open questions.
Liz: Have you found a solution for the nuclear waste?
Micha sighs: I wish. No – there isn’t one either! We can only try to find optimal interim solutions. After the Global Change, a meta-project was immediately formed that deals solely with this problem. All places intended as possible repositories in the Real Presence were checked again and more than half of them were classified as unsuitable. As an interim storage facility – because such a geological formation never lasts for all time – four sites around the world come into question. So that’s where the highly radioactive material will be housed for the time being, in the knowledge that every generation from now on will have to watch over it. And it must both look for new sites that can eventually replace the old ones and research new solutions. It is downright criminal what the Old World has burdened us with – for hundreds of thousands of years! It is immensely good to know that no new nuclear waste will be added to the old one.
Toni: Yeah, the subject of nuclear fission is practically out of the world! In the New World there is no need anymore to fear nuclear war or a super-GAU.
Liz thoughtfully: That must feel great.
Micha: Yes, but you also see: Of course problems can be discovered in the game! And completely new ones can arise. Solving them is sometimes just as difficult as in the Real Presence. Though our new economic rules help us avoid many of the problems of the Old World, especially those that were evoked by capitalism and the competition between nations, there are many serious problems we have to deal with here through climate change.
Toni: Hm, you guys have landed in quite an extreme area with the NPP thing and now the climate change. Most of the tasks to be accomplished here are much, much simpler. Things have to be produced that we need for a good life. This in turn requires a functioning infrastructure with electricity, water supply and disposal, transport facilities and premises. And then there are the areas of work that involve restoring the natural foundations, i.e. reclaiming biotopes, making fields fertile again, clearing the waters of dirt, plastic and chemicals. For all these works there are vast amounts of data from the Real Presence that help us calculate what is needed in terms of working time, materials, raw materials and knowledge.
Jonah: That’s fascinating Apropos working time – could you please tell me again how that works? How does the distribution of labour work and how are the individual hours calculated?
Toni: You get your own digital logbook with what you’ve signed up for and how many hours. That way you can keep track of everything.
Micha: Let’s say in Bonjour a block of houses is still without … he ponders … fibre cable. So after the necessary material has been organized the question is: Who will help with the laying? Who still has time to do it without exceeding 12 hours? You just have the capacity of 5 hours free and get in touch. It’s as simple as that.
Jonah: Is the 12 hours actually a must?
Micha: No, in principle nobody is forced.
Liz: Oh, and that works?
Toni: Questions like these always remind us how things work in the Real Presence (grins) … Everything is so different here … Yes, so far it works very well. Each and everyone can do something, and doing something corresponds with taking something and vice versa. In general human beings seem to be rather cooperative and they like to give. Just what he or she is able and willing to. Repairing an electric line, cooking in a taberna, working with robots, designing a piece of furniture or writing a novel… – whatever. If someone really wanted to do absolutely nothing for the allmende or a global metaproject, he or she is free to do so. After all, there may be numerous reasons why.
Liz: Does he or she have to tell?
Toni: No! Where would we get to!
Jonah: And does he or she still have full access to the pool?
Toni: Of course.
Micha laughs: Yeah, it’s hard to follow, isn’t it? But you’ll see, it works. At least that’s what we can say right now. Also, the work distribution is far less problematic than is mostly thought of.
Jonah: Hmm. Muses. But what about terribly unpleasant work like … – let’s say, shit work in the truest sense of the word. Like, uh, sewer cleaning or something. Or what about deadly boring stuff?
Micha: There are different models how to deal with that. Our immediate neighbour allmende works with the reward model. If you do an unpleasant job, like tarring or the sewer work you mentioned, or even a job that requires a lot of physical effort but can’t yet be done by a machine, you get double credit for the hour there.
In our allmende we do things a bit different. We rely on the fact that the interests are distributed so that in the end all work is done. Which has gone quite well so far … – helooks at Toni – except for one time.
Toni: Yeah, that was a rough one. Just because of the kitchen clean-up. He smiles. Two of the people who like to do that were sick, and a request within the allemande was of zero success. In a game, of course, that’s a joke, because no one has to do the work in real. But as I said, the players take it serious. And they probably also want to test what could happen in such a case.
Jonah: And what happened?
Toni: Well, the members of the alliance had a bit of a fight – well, a bit more than that: two of them let their avatars scuffle – and then agreed on a palaver evening.
Jonah and Liz laugh.
Liz: Really, they brawled? That’s funny. But what did you just say …: palaver evening?
Toni: Yes, an evening to discuss how to deal with such things. Or even better: how to deal with it in the future. If a solution is found, great! If not, and if there are still conflicts, the allmende can call in a consultant. These are members trained to mediate, every allmende has at least one.
Liz: Hm, that sounds too good to be true. I can’t imagine that all conflicts can be solved that way, though. Heavens, I’ve seen people hate each other so much that sparks flew.
Micha: Well, it works, Liz. Of course, we are not in paradise here. Although we are in the realistic simulation of a possible and much better world, or just because of that, it occasionally cracks here, too. However, all of us who participate here live in the Real Presence at the same time and have to deal with all the absurdities and constraints that exist there on a daily basis. So it’s not easy to grasp and fathom the spectrum of possibilities and opportunities that open up in the New World. Nevertheless many are really strongly involved in the whole thing and feel a change in their views and perceptions. That just by the way. If the New World was real, there certainly would be resentment and strife there, too, and murder of passion. There would probably still be people who find drugs great, even if they have less reason to do so, and there will be unhappy lovers and also revenge addicts, because one can offend in every society. But there would be no one left who would have to have existential fear, would be involuntarily lonely or would be exploited. In the world community nobody can take a special rank, but everybody makes his contributions which are equal in appreciation. The foundation for personal advantages is pretty much withdrawn, and to reach power and wealth one can forget about completely. No one can buy the labor of another … There is no money! – and any surrogate would violate the rules of the game.
Liz scratches her nose: Great. Still … Alright, I start to feel a bit exhausted by all that information.
Jonah: Me too! At the same time, I am excited to see what I’m in for here.
Toni: Does that mean you’re staying?
Jonah looks at Liz: Sure!
Liz: Yes, of course.
Toni: That’s super. Would you still like to see the glass plant? And what about visiting the potato festival with us tonight? There you could meet a lot of allmende members …
Micha grins: … who will surely ask you to come to the allmende meeting tomorrow, where some important topics will be discussed and decisions will be made. Very interesting, I tell you!.
Jonah: Well, I definitely want to see the plant, but I am not totally certain about whether I can stay for your evening program, but I’ll be there if I can.
Liz: Unfortunately I definitely can’t be there tonight. That’s a pity. But the weekend is coming close … Jonah will keep me informed. Right?
Jonah with a sigh, at the same time smiling: I’ll try.
Toni: In the New World, by the way, we celebrate a lot and do things together. There’s hardly a day without a soothing finale! In fact, that even works in the virtual world! And there’s also a lot of culture on offer: theatre, performances, concerts, recently we’ve also built an open-air stage, and tomorrow we’ll be discussing whether to add a third cinema to the two we already have. Many people have spoken out in favour of this, saying that it’s much more fun to watch films together.
Micha: Besides, there are always sporting events …
Jonah: Wow. And how is all this organized? By projects?
Micha: That’s how it is. The exciting thing, as with so much here, is to consider what works – and what doesn’t. What is wanted, how many members of the allmendes are willing to participate and contribute, is the ecological balance right in terms of location and materials? – and so on.
Jonah: Okay, I can imagine that would be fun for me, too. But speaking of fun … – I mean, it just can’t get even close to participating in a REAL sporting event or in a REAL beer garden or even at a concert … – that’s simply not possible here!
Micha grins: Don’t be mistaken, occasionally performances are put into the game, just for fun. But you are right, getting together as avatars is something totally different from getting together as real persons. You probably know this from other games: You might imagine what it’s like to kiss someone, but reality is hard to beat … And yet in the game it becomes quite visible how this new society affects togetherness. After all, everyone can decide where and how they want to use their skills and what interests they want to pursue. Perhaps the greatest and most encouraging benefit, however, is to experience how the climate and nature recover and how great a life is that consciously experiences exactly that.
And there is something else you will learn here … So, many of the differences that weighed heavily in the Old World somehow lose their contours here. They just don’t matter anymore …
Liz: Like what?
Micha: Well, like those between the sexes. Or between young and old, differences in ability, or even disabled and non-disabled … Just imagine, we actually have several players who have chosen disabled avatars to explore how they fare in the New World.
Toni sets his cup down loudly on the table.
Toni: Listen you guys, I think we should leave for the glass factory now, it’s getting dark soon and then you won’t see as much on the drive. Does everyone agree?
Jonah: You bet! I’ve been looking forward to this the whole time.
Micha: Okay. We’re going to take the streetcar.
They walk to the tracks. While they are waiting …
Micha with a thoughtful look: You know, we are still at the beginning with this whole thing. Everyone who participates here enriches the New World with knowledge, experience and also with very personal concerns. It remains to be seen how well all this can be used and integrated so that the virtual world comes as close as possible to a real possible world.
Liz: Yes, of course, that’s the reason why we want to participate here. It’s just fantastic that this is a way to maybe prove that it can be done differently. That we could live together in a way that is good for everyone, in the long run. That reminds me … – I wanted to ask this earlier: Are there actually already signs of a change in the number of people? Oh dear … – how do you want to determine something like that at all?
Micha: I’m glad you brought that up. Of course, this can only be done through surveys. For example, let’s take a allmende in a place where many children were born in the Old Presence, such as Sudan. Our fellow players in Sudan now know that – unlike in their real present – their existence is secure, they have access to infrastructure, education and cultural facilities. In the course of the game, they experience how the landscape changes under the new rules of the game, how ecosystems regenerate, how their village or district changes positively, and how they themselves can make an important contribution. You know: The starting point in the game is always the real physical conditions of a place as they prevailed at the time of the game programming: i.e. condition of nature, type and condition of buildings, agriculture, infrastructure, industry, etc. So, now we see how all this changes under the new game rules. So we can start a survey in the sense of: Do you want to have children, and if so, how many children would you consider ideal?
Liz: I see. That’s not exactly reliable material, because wishes are smoke and mirrors, but it’s still something that can be worked with for the time being?
The streetcar approaches, and Toni raises a hand.
Toni: That’s it.
They get on and take their seats. And keep quiet, which is good for a change. As they ride through the city, Jonah sees a ticket machine by the tracks. He points to it.
Jonah: Well, it’s not needed anymore, is it?
Their guides nod.
Micha: For sure not! Although quite a few have been removed, there are still some, just like ATMs and other machines. Taking them down is a lot of work, and besides, it’s not that urgent.
Toni: See that building over there? – points to it. That’s the former Allianz headquarters. Tomorrow’s meeting will also be about it, that is, how the building could be repurposed. So far we have been collecting data and ideas, now we have to be a bit more concrete. So if you, or at least one of you, should be there, you would not only have the opportunity to see how this works for us, but also to ask questions.
Jonah: Sounds good. Are we going to have a beer afterwards?
Liz grins, the guides are delighted.
Toni: Welcome again to Bonjour, Jonah! Only too happy to!
The streetcar now climbs a hill, passing old villas and a lake with a long sandy beach, still busy despite the autumn temperature. Jonah’s thoughts, however, are still occupied with the villas.
Liz: How is that actually with the living space? How is that organized? Doesn’t everyone want to live in a villa like that?
Micha laughs: You would think so, yes. And it was like that at the beginning, but that quickly subsided. He looks out the streetcar window
Toni: Well, maybe we should explain it from the beginning. Because that’s how we did it here: After the Great Transformation, first of all everyone continued to live where they had lived before, and formerly homeless people were immediately given living space in former vacation homes, hotels, youth hostels, and so on. Then the entire stock of currently available living space was recorded – according to square meters and furnishings. A list of necessary renovations and restorations was drawn up and assigned to a project that would take care of them exclusively. At the same time, a list of needs was created, in which everyone who was dissatisfied with his or her current housing situation could register. In our case, that was about 20%*. What was the reason, they asked: too little space?, too little light?, technology?, bad floor plan?, aesthetics? … etc. In a project, the redesign was then planned and implemented together with the residents. Who still did not feel comfortable after that, could and can apply for living space, which is created by the conversion of buildings, which were indebted to the money society. And always you can participate and help to design, if you want. The only restriction is the consumption of materials, which must not exceed a certain limit or sometimes involves waiting times.
Micha: In the beginning, this was a big issue, but now it’s lost a lot of its explosiveness. Maybe also because people live much more outside than before and there is a lot of freedom to shape their own lives.
Toni: It is also clear to everyone that the climate and the abundance of species can only be saved through a global effort, which in turn are the basis of a good life. That’s another level, but I think it also plays into it.
They are driving past a villa where an elderly couple is sitting, their faces turned toward the late afternoon autumn sun.
Liz: It all sounds good. But you said that for now everyone could stay where they lived – so the villa residents, too. Did the others just accept that?
Toni smiles: Yes, you’re right – at first, some wanted to continue living alone or in pairs in their large or even huge living spaces. But even in the game it became clear that without staff, without housekeepers, cleaners and gardeners, the whole thing had little appeal. It is easy to calculate how many hours are needed to keep so and so much living and garden space in order. These hours are then deducted from the weekly leisure time budget. And then you realize: Oops, that has more disadvantages than advantages. In any case, so far all of the people who have vacated large apartments have decided either to join forces with others or to move into an apartment where it’s easier. If a villa becomes empty in this way, a meeting is held to discuss how to proceed with it. Is there a need for a shared apartment, or should two or more apartments be made out of it, or are there other needs? Apply more parties than there is room for, and if no agreement can actually be reached, the decision can sometimes be made by drawing lots.
Jonah: Aha … – and that works …?
Micha: It’s amazing, yeah, but there have also been enormous changes in decision-making practice. But more about that later. We’re almost there!
The train is now approaching an area where there are several factory buildings. Jonah is curious: how does work in a factory work in a game? And he is amazed when he enters the first factory building with Liz and her guides.