Complex urban development projects require the involvement of multiple stakeholders who can all significantly affect their budgets, acceptance and overall success. Although a number of participatory processes have been developed for such scenarios, challenges such as maintaining long-term participant motivation and reaching traditionally underrepresented members of the population remain. Serious games have been used in various other contexts to motivate participation and promote the understanding of complex issues, but not in a co-located participatory setting. Play!UC seeks to investigate to what extent computer games can be used to support participatory processes in urban development projects. Specifically, the research project focuses on the target group of young adults and decisions they make that can affect their carbon footprints. By examining game mechanics from existing and novel game approaches and their potential for use in participatory processes, Play!UC aims to create a toolbox of relevant mechanics for urban development scenarios. These mechanics will be tested in a total of three Living Lab environments in Holland, Belgium and Austria, resulting in a tested suite of applicable game-based methods that can be used in urban development and other participatory contexts.

Project structure / Work packages:

WP1 Framing games: developing and defining a taxonomy of game mechanics relying on game parameters based on the adaption and translation of the Salen & Zimmerman (2003) framework. On the basis of this taxonomy, a number of best practices will be analysed, related either to carbon reduction or participatory planning.

WP2 Framing participation: developing and defining a typology of participatory practices relying on existing participatory frameworks. On the basis of this typology, the planning processes and the roles of participation in the three Living Labs will be analysed. Where possible, the analysis will focus on projects aiming at reducing carbon footprint.

WP3 Composing toolbox & writing project briefs: synthesizing the results from WP1 and WP2.

WP4 Developing games: integrating the game mechanics into games addressing the project briefs of the three Living Labs.

WP5 Validating games: developing a method to validate the impact of the games on participatory processes (e.g. knowledge transfer, behaviour change, citizen support, social inclusion, etc.)

WP6 Dissemination & WP7 Project management

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