In 2008, game designer and futurist Jane McGonigal led Superstruct, an immersive online game simulating a pandemic. Nearly 10,000 players from all over the world strategized about how to cope with a global outbreak of a respiratory virus, accompanied by supply chain disruptions and bad actors spreading misinformation and discord on social media. The game’s premonitions were so astute that in early 2020, many players told Ms. McGonigal they felt strangely calm and ready to face the cascade of crises that began with the first cases of Covid-19.
“Simulation participants kept telling me, in their own ways, that pre-feeling the future helped them pre-process the anxiety, the overwhelming uncertainty, and the sense of helplessness, so they could move faster to adapt and act resiliently when the future actually arrived,” Ms. McGonigal writes in her new book, “Imaginable,” which will be published next week. At a time when news stories regularly use the words “unimaginable” or “unthinkable” to describe our moment, she hopes her book’s “futures-thinking tools” will help readers feel less blindsided by what might be coming next.