Lightning Talk
We call it Gamicipation! An approach for playful urban participation

Short thesis

In Germany, but not only there, there is a constant rising lack of legitimation of and trust in representatives. People are more and more used to bring up their own interests, wishes and needs in all public and urban processes. This fact will change the whole public and urban proceedings in a way we can`t foresee by now.

To guide this change we urgently need reliable and legal structures, tools and methods to support a further bottom-up approach to planning, as well as to teaching and learning about planning. To create room for civic action and to ensure democratic procedures for all people.

The aim of the Berlin based Urban Super Group is to take up these challenges by developing new analogue and digital playful forms of citizens participation, teaching and learning empowering public or urban processes.


We call it Gamicipation!  An approach for playful urban participation and meaningful civic engagement

Change is in the air. All over the world the trust in and legitimation of representatives is eroding. People want to see their increasingly specific interests respected, especially in public and urban processes. But we need reliable structures, tools and methods to support a further bottom-up approach to planning. Ideally to create space for civic action and to make procedures more democratic. Our answer is play.

The goal of us, the Berlin-based Urban Super Group, is to develop new playful forms of citizens participation to empower public and urban processes. In our talk we will give an overview of playful practices in urban planning, a deep analysis of the in situ participation tool “Mobile University” and a short sketch of a future project we want to realise with partners in Algiers in 2017.

First we will reflect on the benefits (and downsides) of games and other playful activities in participatory processes, to define a concept we call GAMICIPATION: Well-made games utilize the short-term fun of making interesting choices to create long-term, meaningful engagement in neighbourhoods. We will look at a few examples to find out what this “fun” really is, how good games create meaning in the urban context and for which kinds of urban planning problems we think games are good solutions.

In the second part we will present the “Mobile University” in depth: It is a playful tool/process for urban change where all actors meet up locally and explore their joint interests in relation to a particular aspect of their urban environment. Based on these principles Karsten Michael Drohsel founded the Mobile University in 2008. It realizes the concept of on-site working, researching, teaching, learning and participating. It is both - some special formats with which participants can teach and learn on-site and a mobile spatial object, where sessions and lessons could happen.

Finally, we will give an outlook on an upcoming student exchange and urban planning project between Algiers and Berlin as an example of how we try to include urban games in teaching and practise on all levels.