FutureCoast is a collaborative storytelling game for climate change education. It has an open, playful premise: what if voicemails are leaking out of the cloud of our possible futures, so we can listen to them? These voicemails fascinate people, because each one holds clues about the state of the world it originated from – a world with water smuggling (2036) or without lobsters (2059) or museum exhibits about the lost art of fishing (2040) or floating houses (2050) as examples. Voicemails are an eminently familiar and accessible form of storytelling. The game challenge is: can you make an authentic-sounding voicemail from the future? – because the voicemails we hear at FutureCoast.org are made by the players themselves, by calling the FutureCoast Hotline (321-7FC-OAST).
FutureCoast collaborates with museums to host interactive “futurethinking” events. In 2014, the American Museum of Natural History, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Science Museum London, The Exploratorium and more developed and hosted FutureCoast-themed events for their communities. At the events, attendees searched for and recovered chronofacts (what voicemails from the future physically look like); listened to voicemails and did art inspired by what they heard; consulted science resources about climate-changed futures (at FutureVoices.net); composed and recorded their own voicemails using the FutureCoast Hotline and the FutureCoast Phone Booth. There are now hundreds of these creations to listen to on FutureCoast.org.
I believe FutureCoast’s open call was the first time the general public has been asked for their ideas of what possibly climate-changed futures may be like – the museum events are part of the world’s first crowdsourced, collaborative work of “cli-fi” (climate fiction). By framing this player-created storyspace and making the future seem real today, FutureCoast creates an engine for engaging people in “futurethinking” and helps them visualize and plan for possible climate-changed futures. FutureCoast focuses on ways that wide participation in climate change narratives can foster deeper engagement and understanding.