Smashing records left and right!! Now let’s take conversation to the next level

Wow wow wow. Face the Future, players, you are KILLING IT. You have smashed all of the records we have for Foresight Engine gameplay. Our previous record holding game? 2,583 players (with University of California, San Francisco). As of right now we have 4,061!!!!  As for previous record number of cards played, that record was held by University of California, Davis. They had 28,226 cards played. You all? You’ve added 29,315 as of 20 minutes ago. And the number keeps shooting up!

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As you play, we invite you to push beyond your first reactions to the FeelThat scenario to get to that next level of engagement. Try to imagine what a day in your life might look like, ten years from today, in a world where you’re wearing a FeelThat. What is the first thing you do?

Too lazy to go on a run? Pipe in the feels from another runner who actually managed to make it out the door.

Trying to wean yourself off coffee? Pipe in some energy.

Have a big brainstorming meeting coming up? Feel 5 different perspectives to broaden your mind coming in.

Maybe you’re working towards an empathy badge for school. Engage with two individuals from different regions – feel what they’re feeling and talk with them about the context around those feels, too!

Or your overbearing mom makes you check in with your feels with her every single morning…ugh. Good thing you have a secret feed with your friends to complain about it…

Those are just a few silly ideas. What are yours? What would your new morning routine be?


Should you have to work for empathy?

Guest post by Sean Pettis, Education Development Worker for the Corrymeela Community, a peace and reconciliation charity based in Northern Ireland. He Co-ordinates the work of Facing History and Ourselves in Northern Ireland.

There are some fascinating game cards being played on what #Feelthat could bring to the future we are predicting with regards to empathy. Anna Romer’s blog raises some great questions about whether we would have the time or inclination to be empathetic. Likewise, Game Player Regina asked ‘But what if we do not have empathy? Do you believe everything this technology can help people to learn empathy?’

PREDICT: But what if we do not have empathy? Do you believe everything this technology can help people to learn empathy? In Response To: I believe empathy comes from inside, that gives us HUMANITY, and if we try to do it with technology we'll probably lose our humanity.

J.Ochoa suggested #IWouldJoin because increased empathy can help prevent another world war.

Positive Imagination: #IWouldJoin because increase empathy can help prevent another world war.

It raised some interesting questions for me. Is feeling as another does the same as empathy? And if it is, how does someone take the step from empathy to action?

In a world without this technology I was thinking about when and how I have felt empathy and what skills did it require? For me it happens in a relationship –not necessarily face to face, or in the present–it could be through reading a story or watching a film. When I hear Sonia Weitz recite her poem ‘Icicles’ about her time in Bergen-Belsen, I feel empathy. I have to think hard, imagine hard and clear my mind of all the other distractions of life. This is the space and environment where empathy happens for me. How would #FeelThat change this? I could instantly take on another’s feelings, not ‘as if’ they were my own (how Carl Rogers defines Empathy) but instead they would become my own. It’s quick, but I haven’t had to work hard for it.

The world is full of injustices that deserve action from thoughtful and committed citizens. #FeelThat might help with the first bit–identifying an issue and feeling strongly about it, but will it move people to action? Or will they become so completely overwhelmed that there is paralysis?

My gut is telling me you need to work hard to create empathy in order for it to be deep, meaningful and lead to #upstander behaviour.

Awesome games sometimes break the Internet

IFTF updated the Foresight Engine (TM) platform with brand new technology for the futures games of 2016. We have added features such as mobile card play and big build card data visualization and many other features!

  • This included recent focused improvements for speed and performance upgrades from February’s massive Envision UCDavis game (with over 24k futures played…and we’re well on our way to beating that with Face the Future already!).
  • Just like the speed of innovation and the evolution of most new social technologies—much like life and the future—unforeseen things can always happen.
  • While we have the utmost confidence in our platform certain dynamics come with the success of lots of engagement and we could still break our games in new ways because of things we don’t yet understand.

Image of a dictionary excerpt that reads: In·ter·web ˈin(t)ərweb/ ; noun: humorous ; plural noun: interwebs; the Internet."


Again—it is new technology AND it is a game and a social experiment. We encourage all players to approach our games with a relaxed, playful, and patient mindset.


When thinking about the future we always encourage those who co-think with us to be comfortable with some risk, disruption and uncertainty. (Our colleague, world-famous Game Designer Jane McGonigal, reminded us that all of her biggest successful public games have broken at some point).

We encourage the player whole community to embrace the fragility that comes with gaming and total unexpected success and most of all BE PLAYFUL!

A Few Tips:

  • PLAY FROM TWITTER. If you find that there are breaks, time outs or application errors, people can always play cards via Twitter with the game #FeelThatPositive and #FeelThatShadow hashtags.
  • WORK THROUGH YOUR IDEAS WITH PEN AND PAPER. Get your ideas ready to play for when the site is back up. Ask yourself, “If FeelThat were to exist, what would change in our society? If that change happened, what else would change? What else?” Work to get through those initial ideas to really vividly imagine how different the world could be ten years from now, when we can feel what other people feel.
  • REMEMBER, Be patient, gameful and playful.


How could sensing others’ emotions affect education?

Guest post by Lisa Lefstein-Berusch, Senior Program Associate at Facing History and Ourselves 

Many players, both teachers and students, are wondering how the FeelThat technology might improve or affect the future of education.  

Some players have discussed how helpful it might be for teachers to sense their students’ emotions. Francisco Angel suggests that education could improve, especially for students who are too shy or too frustrated to ask for help. Other players built on this idea, suggesting that feeling students’ emotions could help teachers pace their lessons or respond in the moment to an entire class’s confusion.  

positive imagination: Teachers can understand their students. They know if they're frustrated or don't understand or are just too shy to ask.

You can continue to follow and build on this conversation here:

Anita suggests that teachers might need to receive training to deal with students’ anxiety and confusion.  

predict, in response to "I wonder what it would feel like for the teacher if they felt everyone's confusion at once. #education." - Card reads, Teachers will be trained to deal with the anxiety and frustration from students #education

Teachers are dealing with students’ emotions, frustration, and confusion every day. Another post from Komalta Rajani highlights the way that students can feel when teachers do not empathize with their confusion. These posts reminds us that they cannot wait for this technology to be able to respond to their students’ emotions.  

positive imagination card: #education teachers could feel the confused state of the student and react accordingly instead of being condescending!

Anita and others consider behavior in schools and classrooms, too, pointing out that there are emotions behind students’ negative behavior. The hope in this post and others is that teachers could find better ways to reach troubled students if they understand that there are real and difficult emotions behind their often disruptive behaviors.

Follow and build on this conversation here:

positive imagination card: teachers will be able to teach emotional skills by showing kids the reasons or causes behind other kids' negative behaviors #education

These posts and others raise important questions about the role of emotion and empathy in education. What could teachers and administrators do today – without the technology of the future–to better reach students in our schools?  


New Views on Mental Health

Guest post by James Stanton, Online Course Manager at Facing History

Almost immediately after Face the Future got underway, game players started raising concern and interest in how the FeelThat device could change how we as a society learn about and treat mental health.

Wimpyninjapa noted that our modern day technology allows us to check in instantaneously with others:

Screen Shot 2016-11-14 at 12.42.19 AMHowever, Staci Rosenthal points out that remote checking in may be different from actually feeling the emotions of others in a visceral way:

Screen Shot 2016-11-14 at 12.42.42 AMShould “gatekeeping” measures be set up to prevent vulnerable populations (e.g. minors) from accessing FeelThat? Or does that take away from the experience of allowing a full, inclusive society of feelings to develop?

Q2LMsMorris reminds us that feelings and emotions can be complicated and not always clear: Screen Shot 2016-11-14 at 12.43.10 AMWould we learn more about the various ways people process emotions and by doing so come to respect different responses? I would like to think that in being able to experience a range of human emotion through multiple lenses, we would be better equipped to understand personal and cultural differences when that level of empathy is needed the most.

Most hopeful to me is that this game has given participants a place to talk about mental health, an issue that is so often burdened with stigma. Not only were game players allowed to express their own vulnerabilities and concerns, like Staci did above, but they were allowed to image a role they could play in the future (and now!) that would put them in a position to be an upstander to those in need:Screen Shot 2016-11-14 at 12.43.41 AM


Would we have time for empathy?

Guest post by Anna Romer, Associate Director of Evaluation at Facing History and Ourselves

‘Tout comprendre c’est tout pardonner’ an old French adage which speaks to what Jane McGonigal referred to as “hard empathy. It means that if we understand completely then we can forgive everything. I have always found this expression to be a double edged sword. Sometimes understanding isn’t enough to get to peace. It suggests, like the premise of the game, that greater empathy will lead to greater understanding and will allow for potentially greater harmony.

Jane’s introductory talk was inspirational, pointing out ways to free our creativity and to imagine new choices and how that imagining and empathy, which also involves imagining experiences of others, and the sense they make of them, can free our creativity. I especially liked her calling on Alice in Wonderland and then reconstructing the dialogue with the Cheshire cat to empower Alice.

However, this kind of hard empathy which others simply call empathy, is more than feelings. It requires the work of understanding and usually emerges out of attentiveness, watching, listening, inquiring and listening some more. Yet, the video itself speaks more to easy empathy, simply sharing feelings and assuming that understanding or action will follow. In fact, we can pay attention and feel the feelings of others already, if we choose to, we can read investigative journalism, enter the life of a refugee girl, imagine what it is to live in the midst of civil war— but most of us don’t do so — is that we don’t have time, don’t want to, don’t want to feel pulled to action? Closer to home, we could spend time with older incapacitated relatives and figure out their feelings, to a degree, and simply be with them, to respond to the isolation, helplessness and despair that aging and frailty can bring. But again, most of us do not. Or we can take a walk with a new mother, listen to her exhaustion and delight in her new life, respond, join her, and diminish her isolation and anxieties, as well as sharing her joy and sense of accomplishment.

It seems to me the problem isn’t lack of opportunity to experience the feelings of others, but rather that we are already overly busy, lacking time, and so wired to shut messy feelings off, not respond, distract ourselves. In an earlier life, I studied the question of how to help physicians listen to their patients. Often they didn’t want to because it would then involve more work, not procedures that they could bill, but messy and complicated issues. Paying attention to the feelings of the people who are in our lives requires time, attention and usually action.  This shadow imagination card elicited a fair amount of response, speaks to that issue— not a lack of awareness of feelings, but the inability to “handle” or be with them, which we already see in our world without devices.

zGraph View of Shadow Imagination played by Janine P.: I wonder what would happen if the person you are communicating with can't handle your strong emotions.
The game itself ,i.e. the playing of cards and responding to the cards played by others— is fascinating, however. The web below shows how this shadow imagination card inspired many responses, including tentacles connecting it to other nodes. The visual imagery of how the ideas are connected are fabulous!

A positive imagination card I found inspiring was this one in response to what we might want #onemillionpeople to feel.

Graph View of Shadow Imagination played by Xinena Ibarra: It will end the privacy and the individuality of the people by not having power of secrecy of their own feelings. #prepaibero

That feeling could be inspiring and almost serve as medicine, a balm for a tough day, if you didn’t analyze or think about it too much. However, it could lead to feelings of anxiety if you hadn’t experienced those feelings from your own mother.  The difference is, we are thinking about how feelings feel when they are directed toward us by someone we love— feeling disembodied feelings, that are not directed towards us, by someone we are in a relationship with might feel quite different, even if they are “positive feelings”.

Positive Imagination: I want #onemillionpeople to feel the unconditional love of a mother and her baby. How amazing it would be to feel so loved for being alive.

The game itself is fast paced and captivating, but quickly these webs and nodes grow too big to really get a sense of what is happening. Does it become a competition to get most points, or most people building on your ideas? Are people listening to one another? It is hard to tell. I find the commenting part to be the most fascinating piece here, even as it is hard to really get your arms around it. I am curious to see how it will grow, and if we will be able to see themes emerging.

How Could Sensing Each Other’s Emotions Affect How We Perceive Gender?

Guest post by Brian Fong, former School Liaison & Program Associate at Facing History and Ourselves

By sensing each other’s emotions, could we get beyond traditional gender stereotypes? With the FeelThat network, player kilin.tang hopes that men will be able to express feelings freely without worry of how society will judge them.

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In the past, (I’m looking at you 2016!) children were informally taught to act as a woman or man through a society’s written and unwritten rules on gender. Check out this video where kids shared how they learned about gender expectations.

blog 2


#HatchKids Discuss Gender Stereotypes

So could the FeelThis network change gender expectations? Player Colby C-A believes that boys would receive a very different message about how to behave as a man.

blog 3


Player Olivia Martin hopes that gender expectations would change as the FeelThat network encouraged the expression of emotion rather than the suppression of it.

blog 4


So what can we do now to create a society where the expression of emotions are validated and supported? Player Vanessa Quiroz encourages society to nurture emotional courage in men.

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How can we be more sensitive to peoples’ feelings about their gender identity? Can a society’s expectations on gender roles be transformed to embrace true empathy?

Welcome, South Africa!

It’s getting late here in the US, but halfway around the world in South Africa, things are just starting to heat up. In a matter of minutes, 74 new players from South Africa just signed into the game. Welcome! Can’t wait to see your thoughts on the future of empathy and the new conversations, moral dilemmas, new ways of relating, learning, and more that will pop up in the year 2026!

image of world map with player activity. Biggest player activity bubble over South Africa

Explore Your Emotional Vocabulary: A message from the Poet Laureate of 2026

For centuries our best minds have wondered: how many emotions are there?

Charles Darwin wrote a whole book on it. In English alone, there are over four thousand words to describe feelings. Yet psychologist Paul Eckman in the 1990s boiled it down to six emotions. Scientists analyzing facial muscles say there are only four emotions. Technologists in 2016 using “sentiment analysis” (reading moods from primitive text and image social media) tracked only two: positive and negative.

But each of us is different, and each emotion we feel happens at a unique moment in our lives. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera noted back in 2015 that “love is a complete evolution. It changes, it changes and it changes.”

The FeelThat network added a new layer to my poetry. Expressing perfectly a moment of feeling is what poets do best, and FeelThat just adds to that perfection by sharing not just one moment but many. As Nobel Laureate Bob Dylan sang, “the times, they are a-changing.”

So youth of 2026: share with me your specific hopes and anxieties, about all of your feelings. Let’s go beyond happiness and sadness, to the feelings that are yours alone. I’m tuned in.

Players! Heed the poet Laureate of 2026. How do you think we might speak differently about emotions, well beyond the “basics,” with the FeelThat network in play?

As of this moment, there are 126 cards in play with the word “happy.” There are only 12 with the word “comforted,” and 0 with the worlds “bemused” “alarmed” or “exhilarated.” We can do better! Use your whole emotional vocabulary to imagine 2026.

Player WaydeG got me thinking about this with the profound card:

Positive imagination card: Our capacity to feel could enhance our vocabulary, making us search for better, more profound words to express our connections. #vocabulary

Meanwhile Player PickledCucumber mused on Jane McGonigal’s card positing FeelThat replacing facial expressions.

Investigate card in response to "This is a weird idea: Would we stop expressing ourselves through facial expressions as much since we can rely on tech to share our feeling?". The card reads "Since facial expressions are our current "universal language", would FeelThat become our new language?"

But what if FeelThat tracks were more like adding music to words? What if you could add feelings ON TOP of music, words, and visuals? This is the future of literature. Go make it!

Aliens and Empathy


In the game world of StarCraft there is an alien race called the Protoss, they can feel each other’s thoughts and emotions while communicating telepathically. This connection was called the Kahla and served as a form of unity for them. However, as some of their kind decided to reject this connection they were cast out and exiled from their own. The very thing that was a symbol of unity and peace was creating strife amongst their people.  The video below is a 5 minute animation about the game and the Protoss. See what links you can draw between them and the FeelThat network!


The FeelThat network has the potential to be something as widespread and important in people’s lives as the Kahla is to the Protoss. The network would allow people to empathize and connect with those that need help in ways that could never be done before. Many players believe that this type of technology could lead to peace and global stability.

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However, a connection so deep has its weaknesses and is easy to hack or corrupt…as happened to the Protoss in StarCraft. These superior aliens who once exiled their kin for not connecting to their network found themselves subjugated to it; and it was those not connected who had to save them.  Many players believe the FeelThat network would be at risk of similar attacks from hackers or governments.

Screen Shot 2016-11-13 at 6.46.25 PM


In the end the lessons from the story of the game are about empathy and being able to connect with people in a real way. A technology like the FeelThat network could lead to all kinds of good things, but it can be taken for granted. It is also a network that seems inherently vulnerable to attack, in a way being able to keep our thoughts private allows for diversity and freedom. What about those that did not connect would they be excluded from peace and happiness? This future is probably unrealistic and is why the game did not end this way. Rather the game ended with the network being severed and everyone being responsible for the empathy they must show others.