Play the City Book

Book Presentation and Talk Show in Amsterdam, 12 September

Book Cover

Negotiation and Design for the Self-Organizing City

There is now a book that explains how we can Plan our cities through Play.

Over the last four years Amsterdam-based startup Play the City has been testing a serious gaming method for collaborative city-making. They call it CITY GAMING. The book Negotiation and Design for the Self-Organizing City explains their interactive city gaming experiences so far, from Amsterdam, Almere, Tirana, Istanbul, Cape Town.

On Friday 12 September 2014, the book will be celebrated and debated by a great line-up of experts at Mediamatic Fabriek in Amsterdam. Program details and RSVP here.

The book is also the PhD research of Play the City Founder Ekim Tan at Delft University of Technology. The public defence ceremony for the doctoral research will take place on the same day in TU Delft's Aula at 12:30.

Can a game unite citizens and experts in a shared vision for their city, as the future becomes too unpredictable to plan? Can a game start a meaningful dialog between urban experts and residents? Can a game breathe new life into liberal democracy? And can a game empower citizens to shape the city themselves? Ekim Tan believes it can. She presents the City Gaming, a method to bring important stakeholders together with small initiatives, so they come up with solutions for urban problems.

Last September, King Willem Alexander’s first speech from the throne as the new Dutch monarch introduced the notion of the ‘Participation Society’. Back then, the term left many puzzled. Was participation a more sophisticated form of welfare? Or simply the end of it? Did the Small State imply the Big Citizen?

The debate is ongoing, with repercussions on every aspect of life. Urban planning and design are no exception, as Maarten Hajer - the director of the Netherlands Environment Assessment Agency (PBL) - stated recently in Amsterdam newspaper Parool: “Planning will have to change. The government’s willingness to give more influence to businesses and citizens is not a plea for ad-hoc policies, and thinking about the larger context of the city remains essential”. Can a participative context avoid the pitfalls of an ad-hoc approach?Can we sustain holistic visions while involving crowds in city-making? Can we turn around popular cynicism about participation?

Some of these questions are finding answers in a new serious gaming method for the (re)generation of cities. Play the City founder Ekim Tan will publish her doctoral thesis, Negotiation and Design for the Self-Organizing City, in September 2014. In it, she argues that self-organization is the New Participation as it can unite 'bottom-up' and 'top-down' powers, resolving a century-old dilemma about the directionality of power and production; ‘city gaming’ successfully brings informal and formal players together to play their local future.

Building on Dutch theorist Johan Huizinga’s concept of ludic man – man as an essentially playful being – at the core of culture, Tan claims that City Games are the best way to organize urban growth in the twenty-first century. Over the past five years, her method has been tested in various locations including Amsterdam, Almere, The Hague, Brussels, Istanbul, Tirana and Cape Town.

The book describes the development of the method through the evaluation of six real city games. Each game was designed to support local city-makers, from architects to neighborhood groups, housing corporations, cultural institutions, and municipalities, in their joint efforts to evolve their cities.

Play the City Foundation looks forward to welcoming you (with your questions, friends, and urban visions).

Please join us on Friday September 12th at Mediamatic Fabriek, Amsterdam, at 19:00hrs.

The event will be English. Please log in to for more information, and find us on Facebook and Twitter (@play_the_city). If you are interested in a special article on the topic write us on

About the Book

You may download the book through this link.
For the hard copy of the book please send us your post address to

About the Author

You may find more about the author here.
CV Ekim Tan

Press Photos

Please download the press photos here.

Press Contacts


Amsterdam - Julia Hundermark : (+31) 6 14 96 95 16
London - Diana Ibáñez López: (+44) 776 049 05 45
Istanbul - Muge Yorganci: (+90) 535 626 17 49