Spiel und Stadt - Gaming for Planning?

Presentation and discussion on January 26th 2012, Duisburg

Play the City was invited by Hans Venhuizen to present it's work at a group of international professionals at the Legenda Situation Room in Duisburg.

Situation Room

Presentation: Play the City

Ekim Tan, founder of Play the City, started her presentation with the theoretical background of games used for planning. From the seventies on simulations and elements of games are more and more used by the planning profession. After the introduction Ekim moved on to the present use of planning. She explained that the Planning Department in Amsterdam is very critical about the current work of Urbanists and Planners and is trying to find new ways. The use of simulations and gaming is one of their new approaches. To apply such elements into the planning profession it requires some specific conditions.
Before making and playing a City Game it is important to do extensive research about the playing area. When such a research has been done the complexity of the urban program is much clearer for the players.
It is also important to invite the right players to the game. Not only the stakeholders but also the people who, in any way, have any influence on the area.
Last but not least is a big variety of choices very important to get interesting results. If there are not enough possibilities to choose from the outcome will be to predictable.
Further on Ekim elaborated more on this issues in her City Games she played in Istanbul (Yap-Yasa) and Amsterdam (Play Noord!).
It became clear the Play the City must be seen as a tool to communicate between different actors. The City Games are more plays (as in theater) than games in which something is gained. The City Games let players see which different roles there are and let be more understanding.

Presentation: Game Urbanism

Hans Venhuizen states that new ways should be explored to execute planning. The past and current planning methods are not applicable anymore for the rapidly urbanizing world and the complex problems of cities. In the past planners where much to much oppupied with the vision of a final city. Hans states that planners should not design a finished city, but the start of a city. In his game 'Plaquette', played in 2010 in the Paviljoens in Almere, he tried to let the public play such a game of creating a starting city.
In another game of Hans Venhuizen he tried to elaborate on another topic: how does the planning process works? In his game "The making of" he explores the different ways of planning.
The games have two important goals. The first goal is to have fun, the second is to find new ways to design and plan urban areas. In contrast of the Games by Play the City, Game Urbanism is more interested in its outcome.

Discussion

After the presentations questions and discussions erupted about the role of Serious Gaming for Urbanism and Planning and if this can also be implemented in the German planning profession.
The German professionals were quite critical about the use of Gaming in the German Planning reality. Partly because the German notion of ranking and profession: when you have a specific title or profession you are responsible for solutions and you don't ask others. When there is doubt you go to the university and ask students to design a plan, but another option is not thought of.
Furthermore the German Planning profession does not share the same view as the Dutch that there are problems with the current way planning is been executed. They do not feel the urgency to change their methods.

It became clear that this debate can, and will be, continued in the future.

See for more info: Legenda

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