Back in March, we collaborated with the Come Out & Play Festival on the “Real-world Games for Change Challenge”, a contest that challenged independent game designers to create an outdoor, public game event (June 19th) that would involve mass participation and leave a positive impact on the area the game was played in.
In last week’s press release, we announced that “Commons” was the winning game of the challenge. Behind the game is Suzanne Kirkpatrick, Creator and Lead Game Designer, Nien Lam, Developer and Game Designer, and Jamie Lin, Interaction & Game Designer. Together, Games for Change has awarded them $5,000 to implement their design. Recently, we met with the team to discuss their motivations behind this mobile project. In the coming weeks we’ll reveal more details about the game itself as well as where you can play test the game before the 8th Annual Games for Change Festival.
The team behind Commons was almost destined to create a game together. All three designers are graduate students of NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) and are life-long gamers. While the idea behind Commons was created by Suzanne Kirkpatrick, her partners Nien Lam and Jamie Lin have worked on similar games that complement Suzanne’s initial vision. Collectively, the team has years of experience in game design and social responsibility – working with organizations like Bloomberg, NYU’s Polytechnic Social Game Lab, Cisco, the UN Development Program, and Microsoft.
Suzanne Kirkpatrick’s idea for the game grew from her desire to reduce the gap between citizens and government. The recent revolutions in technology allowed everyone to gain new voices and see how their individual input could have an impact in their community. Suzanne wanted to create a 21st century solution to the timeless problem of “The Tragedy of the Commons”, which Wikipedia states is a “dilemma arising from the situation in which multiple individuals, acting independently and rationally consulting their own self-interest, will ultimately deplete a shared limited resource even when it is clear that it is not in anyone’s long-term interest for this to happen”.
Hence, playing Commons will leverage the power of crowdsourcing to improve current city services and citizens’ overall standard of living. The game will allow players to band together and enable New York City government services to know how their citizens would prioritize which problems to fix. The team wanted to create an experience that will provide local government with accurate and timely info, the ability to spot key problem areas, a means to figure out how to efficiently allocate resources, and grant local government the opportunity to demonstrate accountability. Commons will utilize the technology in Internet-capable smart phones to gather important data from their cameras, GPS and more to integrate with key New York City resources, as Suzanne states, “It is our hope that the data gathered from gameplay will be valuable to NYC.gov’s 311 team and to the Office of Digital Coordination. NYC.gov encourages innovations in mobile technology to engage the public, and is very interested in the role of games as a platform for citizens to craft civic solutions for our city”.
We’ll share more details about the game mechanics after a play testing event happening in New York City on May 21st. The play test will be open to the public so stay connected with us on Twitter and Facebook for more announcements and the chance to play test the game with Suzanne, Nien and Jamie!
The Commons team will also be presenting their post-game findings during the 8th Annual Games for Change Festival. Don’t miss the opportunity to witness the full evolution of this project from start to finish. Register now!
See you on May 21st!