Macon Money, a city-wide social game that crosses between the real world and online social media, has won the 2011 FutureEverything Award for outstanding innovation in art, society and technology. Macon Money Executive Producer Kati London of Area/Code, which created the game for Knight Foundation, will be presented with the £10,000 prize at a Gala Awards ceremony on Friday May 13th, during the four-day FutureEverything Festival in Manchester, from May 11-14 2011.
Macon Money attempts to break down socio-economic segregation in the United States city of Macon, Georgia, by encouraging residents from different post codes to work together. Players must use social media and online communications to find and meet each other before they can redeem their reward, Macon Money, a real-world local currency which can be spent in participating local shops and businesses.
Tens of thousands of US dollars’ worth of Macon Money has been printed. To earn this currency, players must cash in bonds that have been distributed to the residents of Macon. The catch is that each player gets just half a bond, so they must find a person holding the matching half in order to redeem their prize money.
To find their match, players may use whatever means their imagination and ingenuity can invent – social media (such as Facebook and hashtags on Twitter), online message boards, Macon Money Forums and even face-to-face events. Cash in hand, the winning players must decide together how to spend their Macon Money.
Since the game launched in mid-October 2010 all of the bonds distributed have been redeemed for Macon Money bills. More than half of these were redeemed by person-to-person connections made by individuals living in different parts of the city. Businesses have benefitted from new patrons spending money that they might not otherwise have spent locally.
Macon Money has been funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which promotes informed and engaged communities, and developed by renowned social gaming specialists Area/Code.
Drew Hemment, Director of FutureEverything comments:
“Macon Money demonstrates how we can use our creative imaginations to harness social benefits from increasingly connected media technologies.”
Kati London, Vice President and Senior Producer of Area/Code comments:
“Games engage people with issues, ideas and other people, and that engagement shifts the ways in which the world is perceived. Through real world rewards Macon Money brings together diverse local residents while creating social bonds.”
Beverly Blake, Knight Foundation's Macon program director, said:
"As a real-world game, Macon Money brings people together in support of local business and helps create a sense of community while utilizing the power of digital communications tools to make connections. It is the best blend of digital and face-to-face connecting that results in creating informed and engaged residents while being great fun."
A year-round organisation, FutureEverything will work closely with the award winner to promote them across international networks, profile the progression of their work and generate future opportunities for them to showcase and present their ideas.
A demonstration of Macon Money can be seen throughout the FutureEverything Festival of art, music and ideas in Manchester from 11-14 May. For more information please visit www.futureeverything.org or follow @futureverything on Twitter.
For further information about Macon Money please visit www.maconmoney.org
NOTES TO EDITORS
The FutureEverything Award recognises outstanding achievement for innovation in art, society & technology. It celebrates creative projects in any medium that offer a new and unique way to experience or see the world and help to bring the future into the present. The winner receives a £10,000 cash prize and the FutureEverything Trophy.
The prize is awarded following a rigorous and transparent assessment process:
- all submissions are reviewed by an international Advisory Panel and a longlist of 20 applicants established
- an International Jury of leading practitioners and scholars from relevant fields define a shortlist of three outstanding projects
- the winner is decided through an open vote by members of the worldwide FutureEverything Community of past festival participants, speakers and delegates
About the awarding bodies:
FutureEverything is an art, technology and social innovation organisation established in 1995 that runs year-round innovation labs and an annual festival of art, music and ideas. The organisation works in a range of fields including mass engagement, awards, international networks, local advocacy, training and thought leadership, on themes including innovation, technology, art, society and the environment. It is embedded in business support networks, and is central to the innovation ecology in the UK and internationally. The FutureEverything festival was formerly known as Futuresonic.
Festival passes and individual music event tickets are available from futureeverything.org/tickets
All art exhibitions and events are free. Music events may be accessed with a pass valid for that day or by purchasing an individual event ticket, available from futureeveything.org
ImaginationLancaster is a centre of excellence for research in art and design rated amongst the top 3 in the UK where emphasis is placed on productive collaborations to create desirable and sustainable futures.
About the award winners:
The John L. and James S. Knight Foundation advances journalism in the digital age and invests in the vitality of communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. It focuses on projects that promote informed and engaged communities and lead to transformational change.
Since Area/Code was founded in 2005, it has been devoted to creating innovative, social games that engage communities in new forms of participation. Area/Code takes advantage of today’s environment of pervasive technologies and overlapping media to create new kinds of gameplay. The organisation is inspired by both the future potential of ubiquitous networked computing and the long historical tradition of games as social interaction.
Area/Code games highlight the connections between the interactive systems and imaginary landscapes inside of games and the real world around them. These connections can take many forms:
- Facebook games that create innovative new forms of social interaction
- online games that respond to broadcast TV in real time
- game systems that explore real-world social issues
- urban environments transformed into spaces for public play
- game events driven by real-world data
Area/Code works with game publishers like Electronic Arts and Ubisoft, non-profit organizations, universities, advertising agencies, media firms, and large consumer brands. Clients include: the UK Department for Transport, Nike, Nokia, MTV, The Discovery Channel, The Science Channel, and Intel. Area/Code and its work have been covered in the Wall Street Journal, Creativity, The New York Times, Businessweek, The Chicago Tribune, MTV, Ad Age, and blogs including Joystiq, Kotaku, boingboing and PSFK.
Area/Code was acquired by Zynga in January 2011.
Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.