"Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer...Let us accept our own responsibility for the future."

- President John F. Kennedy

Forward is a mobile game that invites players to collectively tell a story about the future by addressing the issues that impact our communities today.

What will America be on its 300th birthday?

In this location-based mobile game, players must collaborate to defeat a mad inventor from the year 2076 who is intent on creating a Dark Future for humanity... using genetically engineered, time-traveling laser-cats, of course! In order to overcome his nefarious influence, players must work with their own laser-cats - and each other - to complete Missions that support organizations working in the community today. These organizations fall into four categories:

Forward is what we call a "participatory futurism" game: an experience that requires players to look beyond today’s polarized controversies toward a better future for everyone.

Time-traveling laser-cats, you say?

Playing Forward works like this:

Find a laser-cat.

Visit Portals located around the community to find your very own time-traveling laser-cat friend.

Keep your laser-cat happy.

Visiting Portals allows your cat to find Catnips. Like all cats, laser-cats are fickle creatures. If left too long without Catnips, your cat will become sad and may defect to the side of the evil inventor. Make sure you don’t run out!

Complete Missions.

Missions include different types of actions that can be taken to raise awareness about or influence local issues. For example, you might create a meme about the issue of low teacher pay and digitally tag it at the high school. Or you might do chalk art on the sidewalk about climate change. When you complete these activities, you earn Catnips to combat the Dark Futures. You also earn Impact Points, which track your individual impact in the four issue categories. When others “like” your completed Missions, you receive bonus Catnips.

Build Stats.

Every Mission in the game includes a Campaign and a Tactic. Mission statistics are tracked based on the difficulty of its Tactic and the category of its Campaign. The four Campaign issue categories are: Education & Opportunity, 2) Health & Wellbeing, 3) Democracy & Justice, and 4) Healthy Environment..

Level Up in Three Tactic Skills.

As you complete Missions using different Tactics, you will level-up in the three Tactic categories: Research, Advocacy, and Creativity. Each level offers new Tactics, unlocks more advanced Missions, and, once you’ve become a master, allows you to add your own Tactics to the game.

Create Mission.

As you level up, you’ll be able to begin creating your own Missions! Player-created Missions earn bonus Impact Points for both you and the people who complete them.

Win Bounties.

Local business and organizations can add prizes, called “bounties,” to Missions they’d like to support. These do things like give a free cup of coffee to the “Mayor” of a Portal at a local cafe or provide a $25 giftcard for the player who has the most likes on their Completed Mission story.

Get VIP Status for your cat.

Players can check-in to Portals once a day. Whoever checks in the most earns “VIP” status at that Portal for their laser-cat. This earns you a special badge, allows you to set a theme song for the location that all players can access, and, of course, gives your laser-cat the right to nap at the top of the cat tree (this also earns bonus Catnips).

Upvote Futures.

Players can use the Catnips they earn through Portal check-ins and other activities to upvote Bright Futures that overcome Dark Futures.

Create Futures.

Players can use the Catnips they earn through Portal check-ins and other activities to create new Bright Futures that other players can view and support.


At the beginning of this five-week game, players can use their smartphones to “check in” at locations - called "Portals" - around the community to discover and complete Missions. Missions are public opportunities to playfully learn about and influence current issues in the community. By completing Missions, players earn "Impact Points" (IP) in the five categories of the game and "Catnips" (CP) to power their laser-cats. Catnips can be used to create and vote on "Positive Futures" to combat the "Dark Futures" the inventor is sending from the future. Players are also rewarded for completing Missions in other ways, including earning Badges, getting access to tools and trainings, and receiving bonus prizes such as issue-related swag, gift certificates from local businesses, and cash prizes.

About Missions

Missions emphasize creative and personalized ways to engage with local civics and are the core of the gameplay. Each Mission includes a Campaign (a short-term goal for the community) and a Tactic (instructions for raising awareness about or addressing an issue). Missions can range from chalk art on a public sidewalk, to attending a Town Hall meeting, to organizing a flash mob of people in polar bear costumes to get signatures for a local clean energy petition. As players advance to higher levels of the game, they can also create their own Missions and earn bonus points when other players complete those Missions. Higher level players can also form and join teams to participate in special Team Missions. Every day of the game, at least one new Mission will be hidden somewhere in the community that enables players to participate in a new way.

Sign up to play! Add to the game.

Fox Cities Organizations

Contributing to Forward takes less than an hour and will get your organization's work in front of both players and the public throughout the summer.

You can think of Forward players as your ambassador to the community for the duration of the game. Need to publicize an event? Let's create a Mission asking our players to do chalk art downtown to raise awareness about it. Want to boost your presence on social media? We can make a Mission for that too. Our goal is to support your needs by mobilizing the talents and interests of young volunteers throughout the area. We back this up with a strict code of conduct for players and manual moderation of the Forward platform.

If you represent a local nonprofit, city department, or advocacy group that is working in one of the game's four issue areas in the Fox Cities, we want to hear from you! Please send us an email or go directly to the contributions page to add your organization and initiatives to the game. Adding to the game is free, although we hope each participating organization will contribute at least one small prize that is unique to your organization. Please share your ideas with us by May 31, 2019 if you'd like to be included in this summer's game.

Add to the game!

Bring Forward to your City!

Join a launch cohort of 9 cities to pilot Forward in your community in 2020.

We're seeking 3 cities from each of the following categories: 5,000-25,000 residents, 25,000-100,000 residents, 100,000+ residents. Cities from Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and other swing states will be given priority, but we encourage anyone with an interest in the project to reach out.

Contact us to learn more

Wow, You made it to the bottom of the page!

The "Full" Story*

Dear people of the past:

We, your descendants in the year 2076, have sent this message via our time traveling laser-cat to ask for your help!

Many years ago, an inventor by the name of Ronald G. Pumpernickel III patented a way to genetically modify cats so that they could travel through time and space using interdimensional Portals. (For a long time this was useless, because the cats couldn't’ take anything with them or speak, but they were cute and made the headlines for a while.) But then Ronald had a breakthrough! He invented a mysterious device called The Orb of Possibility (aka "The OoPs"). Orbs have the power to capture a wish for the future and, when charged by the laser-stare of a catnip-fueled, time traveling cat, they cause that wish to become a reality within 50 years. Orbs are special because they can cross dimensions of time and space with the cats, which meant they could be sent to the past to influence the present.

At first, life with The OoPs was good. It was a momentous day when the great laser-cat Ralph traveled back to 2012 to deploy the “Happiness for All” Orb that brought peace to our time. But things have been changing recently. You see, Sir Pumpernickel has gone mad and has begun sending Orbs carrying Dark Futures filled with negative wishes back to your time and deploying them. With the help of your catnip-fueled laser-cat, you must combat the Dark Future he is making for us all by creating and charging Orbs with Positive Futures. You can earn Catnips (CP) to fuel your laser-cat by completing acts of truth and bravery we will call “Missions.” Missions exist in three categories: Research, Advocacy, and Creativity. Each category is guided by a magical creature discovered by the cats in their interdimensional travels (except the honey badger, who’s always been there).

Your actions can reverse the damage created by Sir Pumpernickel and return us to our once idyllic lives. (You just might end up better off for it too!) More laser cats will be arriving in your time in the weeks to come. You and your friends must each capture one and use it to look for Orbs a portals located around your community and create and share Positive Futures to fight back against the mad inventor.

People of the past, you hold the fate of us all in your hands. Your first Mission awaits!


*This story will definitely change in some ways before the game's July 4th launch. Want us to keep you posted? Sign up to play and you'll be the first to know when we start releasing content.

The Forward Beta test launches July 2019 in Appleton, WI

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Contact Info

Where to Find Us

Cambridge, MA
Neenah, WI

Email Us At

falck at mit dot edu