Playful Engagement Leaderboard
Infusing games and fun into civic life doesn’t have to be difficult. James Rojas and Chris Haller joined CommunityMatters to share ideas on playful public engagement and decision-making.
The key takeaway? Play is more than just fun. Games and playful processes can help you achieve consensus more quickly, harvest local knowledge more thoroughly and garner greater support for final outcomes. These benefits mean you're likely to gain more thoughtful and informed input with fewer meetings than traditional public engagement - efficiency at its best! And guess what? When processes are efficient, they often cost less, too.
Taking inspiration from this playful call, we’re sharing the most salient ideas from the conversation leaderboard-style:
#1 Roller City Badge
In honor of the woman who modeled an entire transportation system for her community out of pink hair rollers.
What in the heck do pink hair rollers have to do with community planning? When you think like James Rojas, the connection is obvious. Give people bright, fun objects to play with. Ask them to build a model representing a vision for their community. The results will be obvious.
Using visual language to communicate eliminates planning jargon while creating a fun environment for people to offer ideas, connect with their neighbors and identify shared values. With a tactile approach, participants are less intimidated by planning, and better able to provide input without the barriers of technical language.
Want to bring James’ style to your city or town? Get started by watching this video on his six-step process.
#2 Empty Pockets Badge
Low budget? How about no budget? This badge goes out to those with inspiring ideas for (almost) no-cost ways to make engagement fun.
Simple, low cost, and fun? Count us in. You may remember Janice Thompson from May when she told us about building civic infrastructure on the ground in Chicago. Well, Janice just continues to impress us. Her list of creative engagement techniques uses only basic office supplies. Take post-it poetry, where sticky notes are used for reflection on meeting themes. Or the audio montage of key takeaways from a get together, compiled using the garage band app.
Another low-cost idea comes from Barcelona, Spain – they designed trading cards for public spaces to encourage engagement in a planning process. And the cost of a trading card? Just printing.
#3 Make Believe Badge
A badge for everyone who loves to pretend.
Tired of public hearings where the loudest voices seem to be shouting, “What’s in it for me?” Change the conversation with a role-playing game.
Who hasn’t pretended to be someone else at some point in life? When we talk about engagement, taking on a different persona has great purpose. Role playing games like Participatory Chinatown ask people to make decisions about their community’s future from the perspective of another resident. Through the game, players experience how income, skill and circumstance impact people’s ability to find jobs and secure housing in their community. Seeing a city or town through someone else’s eyes can help citizens think more broadly about the affects of policy decisions.
#4 Cut to the Chase Badge
Tired of process just for the sake of process? This badge goes out to you, friend. It’s time for engagement that is meaningful and public input that truly guides the future direction of our communities.
Games are great for engagement, but how can they help make real decisions and prioritize future action? Imagine Central Arkansas’ Choose Your Future game offers residents a chance to set priorities for the future, and then use scenarios to understand how choices affect those priorities. Care most about local parks and a faster commute? You’ll see whether more bike trails or a transit expansion will lead to the future you desire.
Decision-making games don’t have to be high-tech, though. Take the Growth Chip Game, where players use chips to represent community attributes. Players place chips on maps of their community to create different scenarios for growth and change.
Find even more examples, ideas and inspiration for making engagement way more fun by listening to our call recording below, or by reading through our call notes.
Want to have even more fun? Register now for the second conference call in our series on play. Join Mike Lanza of Playborhood and Brian Corrigan of Oh Heck Yeah for a vibrant discussion on creating more playful public places.