Looking to increase the diversity of participants in your planning process, cultivate civic learning, and receive better data about stakeholder views? “Community PlanIt is a game that makes planning playful, and gives everyone the power to shape the future of their community.”
Community PlanIt (CPI) is an online, social game that engages communities in local planning. The basic structure of a CPI game is a series of time-limited missions, where players are prompted to complete a series of challenge questions. Players receive coins (in-game currency) for most game actions, and certain actions such as commenting, liking, and sharing are reinforced through badges. Coins function to rank players’ performance in the game, and also serve as a currency that can be spent on “causes” which are local projects that benefit the communities playing, such as college application assistance for low-income youth or funding a neighborhood bike program. Players with more coins accumulated have a greater impact on which causes win. While competition is key to players’ motivation, cooperation and sense of community are fostered through easy comment filtering tools and weekly emails to players that summarize game activity. At the end of the game, the distribution of coins to causes is meant to represent the community’s general sentiment.
CPI is more than an online game. Each implementation is part of a process that involves community outreach and content creation prior to game play, and is followed by a face-to-face community meeting that also serves as the game finale. There, players and non-players are invited to debrief on game results and plan for next steps. Once the game is complete, the data is available to planners and community organizations via an interactive data visualization tool as well as spreadsheets. Most simply, this data can verify the relevance and urgency of previously identified issues. The “thick” responses elicited by CPI’s unique design can also help reframe these issues, and even highlight new or emerging issues that had escaped prior notice. Lastly, CPI’s accessibility can help clarify the relative weight or magnitude of public opinion about particular issues.