The Lectorate of Play & Civic Media is an academic partner in the Games for Cities project initiated by the Play the City Foundation. In this programme, three local city governments in The Netherlands will collaborate with game designers and researchers to explore the use of city games as a tool for collaborative practices of city making that include citizens in processes of urban planning.

The programme has three goals:

To produce a guidebook for policy makers and regulators to employ city gaming in their daily work. To activate and grow of the City Gaming community through public events and an online network. To create a comprehensive City Gaming database on the Games for Cities website.

The main activities of the programme are centered around City Game Jams in the cities of Eindhoven, Amsterdam and Utrecht. For these game jams, game designers and other professionals are invited to prototype a game that addresses a theme specifically set for that city. Each game jams is accompanied by a ‘City Game Talk Show’, a public event in which game designers and commissioners exchange their experiences. The programme will be finished by a large international conference in the spring of 2017 in Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam. The challenges addressed are The Circular City for Amsterdam, The Inclusive City for Utrecht and Citizen City for Eindhoven.

Event Games for Cities Training School on the Circular City

In October 2016, the Lectorate of Play & Civic Media organized the Amsterdam City Game Jam. This event was organized as the Games for Cities Training School, in close cooperation with the EU COST Action TU 1306 Cyberparks. Out of more than 120 applications, we selected 20 participants that in the course of one week took up a challenge related to the circular economy brought in by an actual stakeholder. The AMS Institute invited participants to come up with a game that would bring the issue of urban mining to the attention of a wider public. Metabolic and the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences were looking for a game that would engage a larger public with their Noordoogst-project, an area in the North of Amsterdam that is to serve as a prototype for circular community ran food production. Researchers from Utrecht University wanted to see if gaming could be used to reframe the issue of water as a communal, commons-based issue rather than a problem that the government should solve. Waag Society asked participants to invent new ways in which urban data about environmental issues such as air quality can be used to activate people to change their behavior, rather than just inform them. And finally WASTEDlab was looking for ways to engage and reward citizens in their plastic recycling project through game techniques. The training school included lectures, playing sessions and two public events: a City Game Talk Show and the presentation of the final probes designed by the participants, both took place at Pakhuis de Zwijger.

Event The Inclusive City Game Jam and Talk Show

In November 2016, in Utrecht a smaller game jam and talk show were organized in Utrecht Overvecht. Here a first version of a game was designed that will be further developed in the beginning of 2017. This game aims to help residents understand current and historical realities of the neighbourhood through residents accounts, while working towards an inclusive future with new inhabitants. The aim is for a serious and playful process that involves representing the neighbourhood both spatially and socially. Imagine the construction of mutual agreements and partnerships about the physical use of public spaces such as parks, or information concerning the availability of housing, the encouragement of entrepreneurship, the exchange of skills between residents, or simply the acquaintances made across the game board. All of these could contribute towards decreasing tension between various social groups.