City Craft event : gamification for area development


As part of the exhibition MozaiekBrabant, this event was about gamification for participatory urban & area development. A mixed crowd of game designers, spatial designers, urbanists, architects and developers gathered to find common ground in a debate around the potentiality of games to tackle complex spatial issues.

A summery of two of the projects that were presented:
Hans Venhuizen examines game playing and applies it to spatial planning and collective decision-making processes. This can involve anything from changes to a public space, to the restructuring of a neighbourhood, to an urban area’s search for identity. He is especially interested in the inclusive potentiality of games. For this reason he organises workshops of max 2 hours (if a workshop takes longer you only get professionals to participate). In contrast to today’s typical spatial planning process, in which ideas are framed around an attractive end-picture, in The Making Of the focus is on how the game is played. He seeks to initiate a discussion around changes that takes into account all parties and all possible solutions. Participants of the workshops are challenged to analyze current planning issues and to propose ideas, raise objections, debate and lobby for solutions.

– Anne Seghers and Zineb Seghrouchni presented their game Leve de Krimp! The project consists of three phases: raising of consciousness around an issue, problem-ownership and action. They include participants in all phases (and especially in the initial phase) of the game, which I found interesting (I believe it is the incentive for long term participation). The game starts with a two hour workshop in which the participants are asked to define a future “problem scenario” that has to do with ‘krimp’ in de Groote Wielen (the shrinking and ageing society in a rural area of the Netherlands). When a future scenario is sketched by the participants the best ideas and the players are selected. The players think of rules/ assignments to execute in their daily lives, with the idea to positively influence the future scenario while acting in the present. What I found interesting is the focus around durable participation in this project (which the other projects were lacking in a sense). Not only was this achieved by embedding the participants in the whole process (also the design of the game) but also in the ability to grow in/ with the problem over time in the way in which it is made part of the daily activities of the participants, for it to get the chance to embed in the local community.

The event was closed by a final word of Kars Alfrink (hubbub), emphasising how urban planners can learn from (game) designers. Instead of the usual practice of urbanists (designing a plan and implementing it afterwards), the prototyping and testing should be seen as part of the design process. This should start in the beginning of the process. The iterative way of learning has proven to be more productive and participatory on the long run, not only on a small, but also and especially on an urban scale.

21 November 2014