A profound relationship exist
between cities technology and creativity . Since the middle
of the 2000s “smart city” business, policy and design visions have gained considerable
traction. It aims to improve services and liveability .
Play and city : Games engage people in participatory city
making. Cities ,centers of entertainment and fun are the locus for actual
playful behaviour and activities. Advent of the modern metropolis understands
the attitudes and behaviour of people in
public space in playful terms. These are
used to idealise , represent and design cities with the aid of digital tools.
On multiple levels
and in various forms , historical conceptions of the “playful city” have
existed. In the majority of these views, there is a clear conception of
“smartness” involved in play. Play is equated with mere entertainment in the
historical strands. The realms of play and everyday life became separated in
early modern times. However , these have been understood as inextricably
intertwined in the recent time. This has been largely driven by the presumed
link to creativity and smartness and the rise of digital technologies in the
urban realm .
design to developments in the world of game design is a relatively recent area
of expertise. The games that are designed for serious purposes and not merely
for entertainment is known by many labels such as games for change, serious
games, gamification, applied games, persuasive games, etc.
It helps to
achieve a balance between real world complexity simulation and deliver
simplication. It also brings about a balance between people’s play
motivations(intrinsic) and achievement of goals(extrinsic). It fosters citizen-driven
innovation and participation on various levels.
In this analysis,
we move between the most applied level of using games for actual urban design
and playful experiences without any immediate utilitarian purpose.
Games may be used
to involve citizens in the actual planning and design process. An example from
the Netherlands, a project by BBVH architects in collaboration with housing
corporations, is Baas Op Zuid . The online simulation game was also used in the decision making by the people for the redevelopment of two old neighbourhoods in
the Rotterdam City.
Games are used to
stimulate playful encounters and interactions with other people and places by
stimulating serendipity and fun. In Koppelkiek, by social game maker Kars Alfrink,
players in a troublesome neighbourhood in Utrecht had to execute simple missions
by taking a snapshot of oneself, for example, together with someone else and
the picture was displayed at a public meeting. This game was explicitly created
to promote playful interactions and serendipity.
Games are used to
foster a “sense of place”, a feeling of belonging and care for the city through
emotionally powerful play experiences.
These examples are
about applying games or play experiences to the urban realm to foster the
“playful city”. The reverse also happens: the city itself can be made
“playable” in different ways. Two levels can be distinguished: the procedural
level of designing certain playable urban infrastructures and services, and the
conditional level of opening up existing urban policies for experiments and
creative “smart governance”.
subtle but salient difference between the “playful city”, taken here as the
city in which play and games stimulate the smartness of citizens, and the
“playable city”, taken here as the city that itself becomes smart at
infrastructural and institutional levels.
in itself probably is not enough to solve urban problems, such as vacancy or
the lack of ownership and social cohesion. Playing together, however, may act
as a catalyst.
makers, media artists and app developers too are designers of today’s cities
across physical, social and experiential ranges. Cities face ever more complex
issues. Games and play seem great ways to do so. However, this requires
planners to relinquish control, accept uncertain and ambiguous outcomes, and to
allow failure to possibly occur. Games are ontologically ambiguous: they are
composed of a set of constitutive rules, a material setting, and actualized
through the embodied activities of the players. This is comparable to what
architects may recognize as program, design and use, but with a twist. Game
designers create rules and settings, yet the game is only actualized by actual
players. People playing are not merely end users. They are active participants.
observation that culture emerges from play suggests that these various play
interventions discussed above may contribute to a new urban planning culture in
particular and participatory urban culture at large. ). Playful citizens then
are not passive users of their city, but adopt a more active role as
co-creators of their environments or “city hackers”. This way a sense of
ownership can arise. Instead of leaving it up to governments, corporations and
(design) professionals, citizens in the
playful city create their own smart urban culture.