Play the City

uses gaming to engage multiple stakeholders in resolving complex urban challenges, both in contexts of urban development and organizational realignment.

Changing the way we engage stakeholders, Play the City designs physical games as a method for collaborative decision making and conflict resolution. We tailor our games according to the questions of our clients. We have developed games for common city challenges such as urban transformation, social change, circularity, affordable housing, collaborative design and smart citizens.

We use serious gaming as a problem-solving method, bringing top-down decision makers together with bottom-up stakeholders. In the accessible environment of games, free from professional jargon and complex planning processes, players are motivated to engage with a problem and with each other, facilitating collaborative outcomes.

We believe that gaming offers a real alternative to standard formats of civic engagement in the 21st century. Our method has been acknowledged internationally and has been implemented for large-scale projects in Amsterdam, Istanbul, Brussels, Shenzhen, Dublin, Bordeaux, and Cape Town. Click on our challenges page to see more.

Enjoy TEDx talk of Ekim Tan -founder, Play the City.



City-gaming Method

Dynamic urban development “is” the 21st century. As master planning falls out of favor, city makers are calling for more effective and collaborative methods. We consult governments and companies through our ‘city-gaming’ method. A game is a model, a simplified version of reality. Using this allows complex issues to be made accessible to a larger number of people; both experts and non-experts. Our Games accelerate consensus amongst multiple stakeholders, support informed decision making, and resolve conflicts. Stakeholders have fun and engage in the process genuinely. We tailor our collaborative method according to each specific case. Here is how we apply the city-gaming method to advanced urban questions

Stakes and Stakeholders

First, we identify key stakeholders -both visible and hidden - and conduct research to help you sharpen the boundaries of your challenge. This often takes the shape of a field survey and personal interviews combined with research. From here, we map stakeholder powers and interests relating to the challenge at hand. This allows us to model the specific player roles and rules in your Game, and to convert the outcomes of this research into a ‘Game concept’. Your feedback at this stage ensures that our initial game concept is aligned with your needs


With your feedback in mind, we then develop the initial Game Concept further, into an interactive “City Game” that is tailored specifically to your individual case. The Game platform enables you and your stakeholders to visualize ideas, plans and projects so that various interests can be tested against one another. Our Games are designed to generate transparency and consensus amongst stakeholders, and to transform conflicts into constructive dialogues. The game provides a safe environment for playing with ideas and identities, creating a platform where you and other stakeholders are able to prototype alternative scenarios and partnerships during the Game to prepare for reality.

Action Plan

The interactive nature of gaming provides a playful platform where creativity is not stymied through power imbalances, and where stakeholders can negotiate with one another and make decisions collaboratively.
We record all Gaming sessions carefully and analyze this afterwards, translating insights and opportunities revealed by players during the Game, into innovative strategies and action plans for your real life interventions.
In some cases, we advise you with further gaming sessions to incorporate changing input or to detail the decisions further.



Best assessment for an organization comes from her partners, customers and media. Read below how others experience our approach and services:

“Play the City brought an innovative game-playing approach to planning and development in Cape Town. They managed to engage stakeholders from different backgrounds on difficult issues. Trust was built up for future projects and engagements.”

Marco Geretto, Planning Department, City of Cape Town

“How to Make Smart Cities even Smarter? Bringing the City Planning into a Game, this is a big idea that will change the future of our cities.”

Gareth Mitchell, Click, BBC World Service

“Ekim Tan, a Turkish woman living in the Netherlands, offers policymakers the solution. All interested parties are invited around a play table reminiscent of a large monopoly board to defend their interests, and negotiate with others.” “How to Make Smart Cities even Smarter? Bringing the City Planning into a Game, this is a big idea that will change the future of our cities.”

Bram Vermeulen, Africa Reporter, NRC Handelsblad

“In Amsterdam, dialogue becomes a Game. Play the City is the creed of the city, a future champion of consultation for transport infrastructure and major public services.”

Claudine Farago Taylor, La Gazette

“Play the City is part of the Do It Yourself City. They don’t wait for governments or big companies to tell them what to do."

Matthew Lefevre, Director, New Cities Foundation