Cooperative Economics Game

Let’s talk about cooperative economics. I don’t mean the financial side of coops (i.e not this), but rather people working together to better each others opportunities for economic prosperity. This idea is simple, yet our capitalistic paradigm makes is surprisingly hard to unlock.

Capitalism is a zero-sum game. The value of the buying/selling cancels out for participants (learn more). In contrast, I’ve seen many times that looking out for each other financially can create more value for all participants and liquidity in the market.

I designed this simple game to quantify this theory. I split 14 participants in teams of 2 and gave them ~20 fictitious needs and resources. Each need/resource had a point number ascribed to it that is awarded upon finding a match.

In Round 1, each team sent a delegate to the “marketplace” in the center of the room with a subset of their needs/resources. They took turns going around and matching their needs/resources. Their goal was to maximize their team’s points (i.e. money). A player could go to another teams corner and see their entries, but that was all they could do on their turn.

For Round 2, the goal was to maximize the points (money) unlocked in general. Players in the marketplace were able to look to find matches for other teams, and freely told them what they had back in their corner.

When done Round 2 (the cooperative round) every team had at least 2x the points of Round 1. Also, the overall points created was 4x that of the first round!  It did this in about 1/2 of the time!

I have an timelapse from overhead showing how the teams moved in the space differently, which was also very fascinating. In brief, working together to help each thrive economically helps ourselves (the individual), the other participants, and the system as a whole become far more efficient, fluid, and abundant!

Augmented Reality Quest

I love crafting immersive games for people to challenge the mind, body, and spirit. For this one, I started thinking how to make a game that is hidden all around us.

At FORM, a yearly festival at my home at Arcosanti, we have lots of tech-saavy, playful artists converge on site. I knew I could push the limit in terms of using tools to immerse. The main problem was how to do it at scale over 3 days.

I created an Augmented Reality scavenger hunt, which had people solve riddles that led them to augmented reality clues with pieces of a map and letters to unscramble. There were ~1500 people here, so I wanted to make it HARD to solve. I only had a few prizes, so spread the clues out far distances, and made it so certain steps were only solvable by retracing one’s footsteps at specific times of day based on the sun.

It was a great challenge to pull this off. My friend Sean Bollinger helped me link the clues to the AR trackers. Otherwise, I was on my own. I remember walking a very heavy generator far into the woods every evening to power a “living room” in nature while missing some amazing music, and climbing up the sides of cliffs to place clues. I remember thinking someone would have to be pretty crazy to solve all of these questions!

It worked! I had various people make it partially and a few most of the way into the game. People were teaming up with strangers and obsessing over the clues. I had people get angry at me b/c it was “so fun they couldn’t do anything else this weekend” !! What an honor.

When all was done, there was only one winner, Sam Weisman. He spent many hours each day solving the clues. He trekked far off course into the desert. He got so frustrated he left the festival in the middle of the night on his last day, drove 30 min away, said fuck it and drove back. He found a resident of Arcosanti just before sunrise who helped him solve the final clue he needed.

To deliver the final prize to Sam, I instructed him to stand in the middle of a crowd, and then used my drone to fly him a limited edition bronze medallion while everyone watched. It was similar to how tributes in The Hunger Games get prizes via air drop. Sam said it felt like the whole festival was built around him! We’ve become great friends and cofounded Phestiv together to bring interactive gamification to the masses in festivals. It’s magic how life works <3.


I have lots of video footage showing the journey that I’ll edit at some point.

Zero Waste via Gamification

We all feel the pain of the environment getting destroyed. We have the power to solve it. The question is how long will it take?

Will it be fast enough to stop mass extinctions, displacement, and damage to our biosphere, lithosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, and noosphere? Will we be fast enough?

In my experience, the fastest way to collective evolution is play. So I designed a way for people to make recycling into a game.

There are many frameworks in the sustainability movement… one of the most holistic is the Circular Economy. This says we should think in terms of closed loops for how we design our products, create, consume, and  repurpose them – “cradle to cradle.”

Despite lots of traction, the Circular Economy movement is yet to produce a single example of what happens as an urban environment reaches 100% adoption. Nearby, Phoenix has a goal of being 100% circular with its waste stream by 2050. The full impact of this new paradigm in resource and social evolution is currently unknown, and experimentation is key to help it happen successfully.

My collaborator Devron and I organized with a cohort of sustanability, supply chain, and art students from Arizona State University via Greenlight Solutions. We used Arcosanti as a container to explore how we can build the first 100% waste diversion test case at Arcosanti, the Urban Laboratory.

Arcosanti is focused on innovative design, community, and environmental accountability. I manage technology here, and so wanted to generate metrics that demonstrate  lean alternatives to urban sprawl based on compact city design, Arcology (architecture + ecology), and play.

The results speak for themselves! In this first test round, we proved we could drastically reduce our footprint at a small scale of 450 people for a weekend. Watch the video above to see more!

Pyschosocial Flashmob

I am fascinated by the ways games can be used to help players process subconscious desires and anxieties. I designed a game to help the specific players come to terms with a polarized community who is struggling with moving beyond a stagnant legacy. I setup the context for the game design as a surprise role-playing experience for my friend’s birthday.

In the game, participants chose being on the good/evil side, and produced a unknowing savior from them to lead them into battle. It’s archetypal nature unlocked collective healing, which you can see at the end. You can watch a behind the scenes video here.

The experience:
1. Lorenzo (unknowing birthday friend) is led into a field at dusk.
2. He is given a story of a battle to defend what we believe in.
3. His friends appear from the bushes and pledge their allegiance to him.
4. Then Lorenzo is asked if he would lead them into battle.
5. Lorenzo, not sure what was happening, is coerced to say he’d lead his army friends.
6. All of the sudden the “Dark Lord” appears and challenges him in a fight to the death.
7. Actors all appear and reveal foam weapons.
8. Lorenzo, still not knowing what was happening, is pushed to lead a charge into a growing fire ring.
9. His army defeats the Dark army, with the finale being his one-on-one faceoff against the Dark Lord.
10. Afterwards, we light of fireworks and drink mead.