Dr. Pop Blog2 comments
Rosten Woo is a designer, planner, and popular educator who recently moved to L.A. from N.Y. after several years as Director of the Center for Urban Pedagogy. He has partnered with Gilda to design an urban planning game that introduces people to the purpose and politics of zoning—the invisible rules that make cities look the way they do. What follows is the first in a series of Rosten’s thoughts on the experience of making the game.
Games as political education?
We started this project with the goal of making an on-line encapsulation of some of the popular education work that Gilda had been producing here in Los Angeles (which was wonderfully parallel with some of my last work with the Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP).
As Gilda has chronicled earlier, our research process took a (rather extended) detour from a digital space to a board game. Workshopping ideas in a board-game format allows us to test out interaction ideas in a live setting (with real people) with pretty low costs (snacks, ink cartridges, and paper) and quick turnaround times. Though the eventual on-line learning environment we create will probably be pretty dramatically different from the boardgames we are testing, we’re learning quite a lot – and at the end of the process we’ll have a board game, too.
There are a lot of reasons that making a board game about land use issues seems like a no-brainer fit:
1. The format is inherently spatial, many of the most popular boardgames deal with territory and real estate (Risk, Monopoly, Settlers of Catan).
2. Games provide a set structure for interaction and engagement that people are familiar with and enjoy. Games encourage social learning and (can) generate laughter, personal connections. Ideal for popular education workshops.
3. Games can give players access to roles and points of view that may be different than their own. This is a critical part of thinking about planning, land use, and zoning in particular.