City Games

Play the City builds games for tackling urgent questions such as climate adaptation, migration, affordable housing...
We can localize following existing games or create a new game for your city's burning questions.




Circularity Game

When it comes to large-scale phenomena such as climate change - and the related mitigating strategies needed at both an institutional and a household level -games are able to motivate collaborative action by making complex technologies and urban metabolisms both tangible and relatable. Our circularity game includes innovation cards combined with roles enacted around a three dimensional area visualization with modular gaming blocks. We’ve designed games that test DIY-plans in the hands of citizens, and games that facilitate collaborative stakeholder innovation between governments, market parties, and citizens. We’ve also designed games that tackle circularity at the scale of the metropolis through enhancing circular-literacy, as well as at the scale of a single district, bringing residents and business owners together to collaboratively manage their district’s resources. Take a look at each of our circularity games for more detailed information.


Local Adaptations: Play Buiksloterham, Play Oosterwold, Circular Amsterdam, Circular Tuinen van West



Affordable Housing Game

Understanding complex urban systems and the best ways to intervene in them requires taking a systemic approach to both research and design. When tackling an issue such as affordable housing in various European cities, each fraught with their own contextual implications and needs, gaming provides a promising working method both for understanding the contextual specificities in each city, and for testing the transfer of policies from one city to another. The Affordable Housing Game is a table-top game supported with policy cards stemming from successful policies worldwide. Other game props include good housing practices in the form of 3D printed props. After developing the generic affordable housing game we have been adapting it for Dublin, Amsterdam, and Bordeaux, each game customized with local data, and more cities joining soon. This project is a collaboration between Play the City and ULI. If your city can benefit from an open-minded policy game on affordable housing please contact our team at


Local Adaptations: Affordable Housing in Dublin, Affordable Housing in Amsterdam, Affordable Housing in Bordeaux



Smart Citizen Game

Cities increasingly integrate information and communication technology (ICT) and Internet of things (IoT) technology to manage their assets. New policies rely on the digital inputs provided from these channels. In 2013, Play the City conducted research on ‘Digital Tools for Smart Citizens’ and mapped online tools for managing cities. Currently we are working on a new game format that sources data from online platforms as well as from stories of communities that may not be represented on these platforms due to their limited access to digital data infrastructures. We believe games have a large potential to generate and interpret citizen data. 


Local Adaptations: If I were Istanbul’s Mayor, Smart Citizen ResearchWoenseltopia



Social Change Game

Our social change game format is a multi-player table-top game combined with challenge cards and 3D printed props. We’ve tailored this format to a range of social challenges that 21st century cities face. From highlighting pathways to employment and social mobility, to building social capital and tackling loneliness through big data, and from increasing militarization in the urban space to developing spatial strategies for mass-migration. Explore our social change games for more detailed information.


Local Adaptations: Urban Diplomacy Game, Migration Game, Ontdek OvervechtWoenseltopia



Co-design Game

Genuine participation in the design and creation of place is the essential ingredient for successful environments. Our city-gaming method places this principle at the heart of our interaction design, generating a platform for players to engage with one another, exercise their collective imagination, and collaborate towards more inclusive solutions. This encompasses both policy and urban designpractices, from an urban vision crafted by local citizens and developers in collaboration with city officials, to creative enterprises claiming and constructing their internal workspaces effectively. We’ve designed games that bring citizens together with decision-makers, which place strategies for achieving decentralized urban transformation in the hands of citizens. Games are able to model complex systems such as interactive platforms, where inputs and outputs become more tangible and more modifiable, particularly for non-expert players. They’re able to facilitate transparency regarding expert- and citizen-led strategies for securing the city, as well as to encourage knowledge sharing and citizen-action, creating a platform for players to steer local governance priorities. Whether this be collaborative decision-making with refugees, or devising strategies for imagining combined visions for a town’s economic transition, co-design - and the environment needed for its emergence- is a central component in our games, as are the partnerships that result from this.


Local Adaptations: Play Khayelitsha 2014 & 2015, Play Noord, Play van Gendthallen, Play Da Lang, Yap-Yasa, Play Oosterwold



Conference Game

Serious games for conferences can be applied to a number of ends: to interactively engage participants on the conference theme, for professional networking which gives participants meaningful reasons to connect, or for generating transparency and collaborative partnerships among people from diverse professional backgrounds. Modern-day heterogeneous, dynamic, and large-scale systems require new and innovative methods of learning and decision-making. From Prague to the Hague, we’ve designed conference games that allow participants to step into the shoes of city mayors, policymakers, technologists and spatial designers, using role-play to establish transparency and shared narratives. Play the City’s conference games can be played by up to 600 players and  typically revolve around a generic city with role cards and an interactive digital keynote presentation. Game range from facilitating collaborative policy and design strategies for accommodating incoming refugees in a ‘mid-size European city’ to fostering collaborative decision making in security for more resilient, secure, and dependable networked systems. Take a look at each of our conference games for more detailed information.

Local Adaptations: Migration Game - Resite, Prague & Pakhuis de Zwijger, Amsterdam, Urban Diplomacy Game - Future Force, The Hague, Woenseltopia



Urban Transformation Game

When social and economic changes occur, they also transform the existing city fabric. Old industrial sites become residential ones, once-booming office parks become vacant or an empty city center gets developed by a group of investors. This often implies collaborative decision-making by multiple players with conflicting interests. Our urban transformation game format includes role-playing while gathering around a three dimensional map and modular gaming blocks. We’ve adapted this interface to a variety of games that tackle questions of urban transformation. We tailored this game into cases exploring re-activating master-plans on hold for brown-field sites, comparing two countries’ planning regimes, testing temporary use of public spaces, and building trust amongst conflicting stakeholder interests to encourage formal investments. Below you can check out the local adaptatations of the Urban Transformation  Game.


Local Adaptations: Yap-YasaPlay Buiksloterham, Play Tirana, Play Noord, Play Binckhorst, Play Brussels, Play Khayelitsha 2014 & 2015