Let’s play urban planner The use of game elements in public participation platforms

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Through the provision of digital tools, government institutions aim to counter the growing alienation of citizens towards institutional politics and overcome traditional barriers of participation. However, as yet this approach has not shown the desired effects of increasing public participation in political decision-processes. In an attempt to encourage more citizens to make use of e-participation tools, some of these platforms hope to use the leverage and motivational effects of games by incorporating game-inspired elements. This research provides an overview of the current practice of applying gamification in public participation as well as preliminary insights into the effects of this approach. We review a selection of commercial applications as well as research projects, for which we list the included game elements and a critical discussion of the approach. Our results show that most projects focus on communicating accomplishments to users that are based on their quantity of participation. While little work has yet analyzed the concrete effects of individual game elements, up to now evaluations have mostly focused on the acceptance of specific gamified public participation platforms. The contribution of this research is twofold. Firstly, it offers relevant insights for the design of future e-participation platforms. Secondly, this work helps to establish a common terminology for game research.
plaNext-Next Generation Planning Vol. 4 (2017): Social smart cities, page 58-75
Urban Planning, gamification, game elements, motivation, public participation, e-participation
CC BY 4.0