The World Game History

In the late 1940’s, the world was coping with the ravages of world war and nationalism. Buckminster Fuller, American architect, inventor, educator, and visionary, conceived a tool to help address these critical problems: the World Game. This was part of his systems-based Comprehensive Anticipatory Design Science approach to solving humanity’s most pressing problems. Early on, it was sometimes referred to as the ‘World Peace Game’. Adapted from cold war command and control infrastructure systems—a vast computerized network that could process, map, and visualize environmental, demographic, economic, industrial and resource information (data and trends), on a global scale. Fuller’s initial concept was to create a game of logistics that accurately simulated world resources, and helped participants figure out a means of sharing them in the most equitable fashion possible. A World Resource Inventory would be charted, graphed and overlaid onto an interactive map, creating an overall informational awareness.

The Fuller Projection

In 1946 Fuller was granted a patent for his Dymaxion map (also known as Fuller Projection). Unlike the traditional maps used in school that greatly distort land masses in their attempt to translate a three-dimensional globe on a two-dimension flat surface, the Dymaxion Map displays the world as an unfolded polyhedron that retains most of the relative proportional integrity of the globe map.

The Dymaxion™ map does not adhere to conventional North-South, East-West orientation. Nor does it assign any continent a place of prominence. Fuller understood that, in a spherical world up and down has no meaning. Moreover these terms offer no practical operational information or guidance. The operative directions used by airline pilots are in, out and around. They travel out not up, and come in for a landing not down. These conventions are far from trivial. They affect the way we perceive our relationship with the planet and one another. The Dymaxion map offers the most accurate representation of the whole Earth.

The “unfolding” of the Earth into the triangular faces of the polyhedron shows the continents as almost contiguous mass lands, instead of the usual separated blocks, supporting the idea of the world as “one island-one ocean earth”.

The World Game shows how the fundamental laws of Nature apply to both global and local economies. All economies are dependent to varying degrees upon the 92 regenerative elements that are distributed unevenly around the world. This fact has been the driver of international alliances and conflicts throughout history. Through trial and error humanity has experienced an exponential expansion in its knowledge of the total inventory and potential of these resources. We have also advanced our technical knowhow of “doing more with less” to the point that we have the capability to optimize Earth’s carrying capacity and sustainably support of all humanity at a higher standard of living than ever realized before.

Nation-state militaries and multinational corporations working under the synergetically discredited assumption of scarcity continue to use this information to develop strategies to gain competitive advantages – often employing games to explore different scenarios to weigh options for exploiting vulnerable populations or defeating competitors. Before the advent of personal computers, they were among the few entities with access to mainframe computers needed to organize the inventories and run simulations.

The World Game is not at odds with efforts to develop local, place-based solutions and strategies. It demonstrates that we must at the very least understand the global dynamics in play that are capable of facilitating or hindering citizens’ efforts to develop their local economies. Even though the world is becoming increasingly complex it is neither beyond our comprehension or ability to influence.

Today the ubiquitous availability of computers and smartphones has created an opportunity for leveling the playing field by providing everyone around the world cooperation to create a just and equitable world.