CCCC.City — A Collaborative Worldbuilding Game

A participative installation combining the mechanics of role-play, board games, and rapid prototyping
30 Oct 2018
Freunde von Freunden, in partnership with Mini
concept, worldbuilding, game design, programming, production, facilitation
For The Event
The Sooner Now
On Show
OCT 2018
JUL 2018 — OCT 2018
Berlin, DE

A par­tic­i­pa­tive instal­la­tion for the event 'The Soon­er Now' com­bin­ing the mechan­ics of role-play, board games and rapid pro­to­typ­ing. CCCC.CITY (aka "Four Seas" /​ "Fore­see City") looks at future cities through a tech­noso­cial lens.

Dur­ing the course of the one-day event, about two hun­dred vis­i­tors of all ages and back­grounds were invit­ed to take part in build­ing and inhab­it­ing a future city under the omi­nous super­vi­sion of AVA’s Chief Spir­i­tu­al Advisor’s representatives.

The Fiction in a Press Clipping


In a recent pub­lic address, AVA’s CSO Emme­line Sev­en­twen­ty­four offi­cial­ized her ini­tia­tive to relo­cate the company’s main oper­a­tions hub to the recent­ly acquired island of Soco­tra. Sit­u­at­ed between the horn of Africa and the Ara­bi­an penin­su­la, the island is seen by the company’s Chief Spir­i­tu­al Offi­cer as “the per­fect oppor­tu­ni­ty to engage in busi­ness with emerg­ing mar­kets, while keep­ing our unique vision of the world”.
	The project is noth­ing short of pharaon­ic. With cur­rent­ly nonex­is­tent infra­struc­tures save for an indige­nous city — which the com­pa­ny ensures will be pre­served — and a rudi­men­ta­ry air­port oper­at­ing on a week­ly basis, “Set­tling on the island will be a chal­lenge," com­ments Sev­en­twen­ty­four, "not only due to its remote loca­tion, but also in regard to the high ambi­tions we have to devel­op some­thing that goes beyond the usu­al scope of cor­po­rate head­quar­ters. We will be relo­cat­ing a pool of vol­un­teers to this par­adise, and are plan­ning to build the city of the thir­ti­eth cen­tu­ry for their fam­i­lies. We want Four Seas to become the sin­gle most rel­e­vant urban devel­op­ment project and are, as per our human-cen­tric modus operan­di, about to run a con­sul­ta­tion to fore­see and cre­ate the city togeth­er with its future inhab­i­tants.”
	The merg­er of giants Aliba­ba, Ver­i­zon, and Ama­zon, AVA has seen total share­hold­er returns sky­rock­et to unprece­dent­ed lev­els. As its leader says, “it only makes sense that we, as a cor­po­ra­tion more pow­er­ful than most gov­ern­ments, own­ers of our own microna­tion, should give back to the com­mu­ni­ty by imag­in­ing the best social sys­tem mon­ey can buy”.

source: Laghari, Rajesh. Social Econ­o­my and Urban Devel­op­ment in the 22nd Cen­tu­ry. Busi­ness Out­sider May 20f8: 108–13. Print.

The Event

Invit­ed to cre­ate a par­tic­i­pa­tive design inter­ven­tion for the event The Soon­er Now sub­ti­tled ‘Urban Utopias’, with the con­straint that guests should be able to get involved “from just five min­utes to a full day,” we devised CCCC.City — a col­lab­o­ra­tive cre­ative explo­ration of the future city. Held in Octo­ber 2018 in the ‘Friends Space’ of Berlin-based cul­tur­al pro­duc­tion net­work Fre­unde Von Fre­un­den (FvF), the project took the shape of a half-con­struc­tion-half-role-play­ing game invit­ing audi­ence mem­bers to col­lab­o­ra­tive­ly build new struc­tures and invent their sto­ries as future citizens.

Upon arrival, each guest was giv­en a token to be exchanged against one of 200 unique Cit­i­zen Kits, com­plete with their per­sona as a new res­i­dent of CCCC.City. This com­prised a con­crete build­ing block, a small human fig­urine, as well as a com­bi­na­tion 'tech' stick­ers and some fresh nordic moss. In addi­tion, an instruc­tion man­u­al explained the rules of the game, which was split in three phas­es: the first, dur­ing which par­tic­i­pants were required to place their build­ing block on a large map, prefer­ably in a way that com­pletes one of the many pro­posed pat­terns — a process which often required com­mu­ni­ca­tion and lob­by­ing among cit­i­zens — and append the stick­ers in their pos­ses­sion. Those who com­plet­ed a pat­tern (think hos­pi­tals, hous­ing, hubs…) had to then invent a sto­ry for their new infra­struc­ture, in a way that inte­grat­ed the tech­nolo­gies and resources used. 

This sto­ry would final­ly be sub­mit­ted to our con­trol booth where it was fact-checked and val­i­dat­ed, grant­i­ng the project own­ers the right to name their struc­ture and to tweet about it, using a spe­cial hash­tag paired with coor­di­nates for the tweet to find its place on the map. It was of course equal­ly pos­si­ble for par­tic­i­pants to ignore the main goal and instead focus on dis­turb­ing exist­ing struc­tures so that they may nev­er be com­plet­ed — dif­fer­ent behav­iors being trig­gered by the roles par­tic­i­pants were assigned as part of their cit­i­zen kit.

It was only dur­ing the clos­ing keynote address that its CSO Emme­line Sev­en­twen­ty­four made her first appear­ance. Her inspi­ra­tional speech remained, how­ev­er, what should be expect­ed from a Chief Spir­i­tu­al Offi­cer: inspirational.

Fol­low­ing Emmeline’s inter­ven­tion, two stu­dents from Min­er­va Schools who had con­tributed to coor­di­nat­ing the game through­out the day, while keep­ing tabs on social dynam­ics among cit­i­zens, took the stage to deliv­er the con­clu­sions of the exper­i­ment. Con­flicts arose, they sig­naled, from the seem­ing­ly irre­press­ible need for a major­i­ty to devel­op detri­men­tal­ly to a minor­i­ty of scape­goats — in the case of CCCC.City, these were the "neo­hob­bits" whose habi­tat was destroyed in order to make space for the new "St Trout Grounds" school, and those whose CRISPR project went wrong and who could no longer show them­selves in pub­lic. Sol­i­dar­i­ty projects even­tu­al­ly devel­oped in reac­tion, with safe spaces being man­aged for both pop­u­la­tions, notably the hot-air bal­loon "CRISPR Haven" and the last floor of health cen­ter "Our Lady Of The Shire." Oth­er note­wor­thy phe­nom­e­non: a fair­ly equal pro­por­tion of tech­nol­o­gy- and tra­di­tion-infused projects, sug­gest­ing a strong anchor­ing of CCCC ideals with­in both past and future.

Final­ly, CCCC.City’s main archi­tects Otto Wavełs­ki and Rajesh Laghari — bet­ter known for their con­tri­bu­tion to Mex­i­co City CDRMX urban rede­vel­op­ment plans — took the stage to present the work­ing method in fur­ther detail, along with oth­er exam­ples of projects envi­sioned dur­ing the day. The "Cryp­to Train," which func­tions with­out a pre­de­fined route but col­lects data about each passenger’s ide­al jour­ney to cal­cu­late a path ensur­ing both high com­mute speed and short walks to des­ti­na­tion. The "Gen­e­sis", a retire­ment cen­ter built near a school to incen­tivize inter­gen­er­a­tional con­tact. "Dil­lon," a pre­scrip­tion restau­rant where food is served based on what your doc­tor says is best. "Fish’n’Bits," a dig­i­tal fish mar­ket where cus­tomers go vir­tu­al fish­ing and pick-up their catch ready for con­sump­tion upon leav­ing. "WCCCC," the roman-style are­na for com­mu­nal release, built as a response to the city’s inabil­i­ty to deal with human waste despite ambi­tions of being a zero-waste city. "Cyber­suck­er­punch," a team of pro­tec­tive cyborgs trained to man­age con­flicts between the under­ground club and near­by church. Or "Tow­er Of Mir­a­cles," the first autonomous trade cen­ter which ran­dom­ly prints goods that can be acquired on the blind by gam­bling cryptocurrency.

Big thanks to Con­nor, Nicole, Inna, Tes­sa, & Capri from Min­er­va Schools for help­ing us through­out the whole day!

Pho­to cred­its (for all the nice pics): Fre­unde von Freunden