Play the City

serious gaming for smart and social cities

Changing the way we engage stakeholders, Play the City designs physical games as a method for collaborative decision making. We localize our games and tailor them according to particular questions of our clients. Since 2010, we have developed games for issues such as affordable housing, circular economy, migration, inner city transformation, urban expansion and participatory design. 

We use 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, players 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, Prague, and Cape Town. In this article we described our services in detail.

Enjoy TEDx talk of Ekim Tan, the founder of Play the City, and if you feel further interested, we may order our recent book sharing our knowledge and experiences on city gaming.


Read below how experts and our clients experience our approach:

'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

'In Amsterdam, dialogue becomes a Game. Play the City is the creed of the city, a future champion of consultation for major urban projects.' —Claudine Farago Taylor, La Gazette

‘Today, new technologies are probably bringing us closer to the Situationist utopia. City gaming is one of the possible tools to accelerate urban participation and engagement. As in Alan Kay’s adagio, “the best way to predict the
future is to invent it.’ —Carlo Ratti, MIT Senseable City Lab

‘This open approach runs against the tide of managerialism and efficiency we’re facing at the moment and which is dominant in the current ‘smart city’ discourse. Only through creative and design-oriented processes are the creativity and capacities of all stakeholders utilized.’ —Maarten Hajer, Director Urban Futures, University of Utrecht

'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 to defend their interests, and negotiate with others.' —Bram Vermeulen, Africa Reporter, NRC Handelsblad

'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