This is sort of a follow up to the FixMyStreet post.

Last week, I attended the 8th Annual Games For Change conference.  One of the more interesting examples was developed by students at NYU ITP, the program that Clay Shirky is part of.  It’s initial trial was in Lower Manhattan.

Using smart phones, it makes a social game of 311 and encourage people to solve problems on their own.  It’s a real world (or perhaps blended virtual/physical world) game, rather than the many games that are exclusively virtual.  

People (individually or in teams) submit “tasks”, which could a problem or a suggestion or a question. For example: what do you give tourists at South Street Seaport (battery chargers!)?  how could you make the waterfront more fun?  

People then vote on the ideas or on problems. There is constant feedback, so you’re notified when someone votes on your idea/task  

The key lessons they learned were that people prefer guided vs. open ended interactions, simplicity is key, and people found it all more fun when they work as teams.

You “win” based on points.  So the person with the most points is Mayor of downtown Manhattan for the day.  However, to maintain a more positive, civil atmosphere, there is an emphasis on and rewards (points) for suggestions, rather than merely submitting problems.

Their next step is to work with the city government to integrate the game into the real 311 system.  

It will be interesting to see where they take this or if others pick up on the idea.

© 2011 Norman Jacknis

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