Collective Intelligence or Group Think? Engaging Participation Patterns in World without Oil

December 06, 2016 by Nassim Jafari Naimi, Eric M. Meyers

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This article presents an analysis of participation patterns in an Alternate Reality Game, World Without Oil. This game aims to bring people together in an online environment to reflect on how an oil crisis might affect their lives and communities as a way to both counter such a crisis and to build collective intelligence about responding to it. We present a series of participation profiles based on a quantitative analysis of 1554 contributions to the game narrative made by 322 players. We further qualitatively analyze a sample of these contributions. We outline the dominant themes, the majority of which engage the global oil crisis for its effects on commute options and present micro-sustainability solutions in response. We further draw on the quantitative and qualitative analysis of this space to discuss how the design of the game, specifically its framing of the problem, feedback mechanism, and absence of subject-matter expertise, counter its aim of generating collective intelligence, making it conducive to groupthink.