Urban Fold

Can Gamification Bring New Voices to the Planning Process?

A new Internet-based game hopes to expand the allure of civic engagement by making planning playful. Trial runs in Detroit and Salem, Massachusetts have already shown promise in attracting new voices to the planning process.

"The goal of PlanIt--a game built around local issues that’s now been played in several cities--is to engage people more, challenge them for their thoughts, and bring new residents into the process," writes Ben Schiller.

"It works like this: A group--say, a planning commission or small business--puts up a few hundred dollars for community investment. Players register on the PlanIt platform, and take part in three 'missions.' To win pledgeable 'coins,' they complete 'challenges' within each mission. Then the projects with the most pledged coins get real cash to spend," he explains.

With games completed in Philadelphia, Detroit and Salem, Massachusetts, PlanIt has already proven adept at luring new voices to the planning process. "58% of the 4,000 players in Salem, and 70% of the players in Detroit, had never participated formally before."

"But the point isn’t just engagement: [Eric Gordon, who leads Emerson’s Engagement Game Lab], says the games are also a way to educate about local issues, gain feedback from people who actually experience them on a daily basis (PlanIt produces comprehensive post-game reports), and to encourage dialogue."

Full Story: Connecting Citizens To Their Government By Turning It Into A Game

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