Threatcast 2020

threatcast 2020 logo

Quick Info

  • Platform: in-person or over video chat
  • Players: 10-30
  • Duration: 2 hours
  • Client: Mozilla
  • Collaborators: Copia Gaming
  • Released: May, 2023

Game Overview

Threatcast 2020 was a brainstorm game that explored how bad actors might use technology to manipulate the 2020 US presidential election. Players took on the roles of the bad actors and submitted illegal or unethical tech-based interventions to sway the election in their favor. Play took place over five rounds leading up to and immediately after the election. During the debrief, participants discussed how we could detect, prevent, and mitigate such interventions in the real world.

If you’re interested, we can adapt the game to explore upcoming elections.

screen shot of Threatcast 2020


The game was commissioned by Renee DiResta, at the Mozilla Fellowship in Media, Misinformation, and Trust, to create a group brainstorming exercise to explore ways in which disinformation might be used in the 2020 election.

The games supported player brainstorming by:

  • Having the main player action involve submitting creative interventions involving technology and disinformation
  • Giving players supporting materials with information about their roles and potential building blocks they could assemble into interventions
  • Providing a rich context of fictional political and social events taking place throughout the game, that they can incorporate into their interventions
  • Updating our model of voter sentiment and polling to reflect the players actions


We ran the game for folks at Mozilla in a session that included senior security and trust and safety employees from major social media companies. The sessions generated relevant insights, which we compiled into reports that we shared with the participants and sponsors. We then ran subsequent sessions for other non-profits and researchers in the field, to help them explore risks related to the upcoming election.

Our client, Renee, said we: “designed and ran a unique, engaging tabletop exercise that got all of the participants out of their usual modes of operating and into a space that inspired deep, creative thought — while still having fun.”

Famed investor Esther Dyson said: “It was fun and funny, but it had enough truth in it to be an amazing and eye-opening experience. This kind of simulation is exactly the preparation people need for the real world, whatever world they operate in.”

You can listen to the collaborators discussing the game on this Techdirt podcast episode.