Lecture Eric Gordon: Play, Games and Power (Amsterdam 23/6)

The VU Graduate School of Humanities in collaboration with NICA (and with the involvement of The Mobile City) organizes a lecture and masterclass with American researcher and game designer Eric Gordon.

Play, Games and Power. Public lecture. 23 June 2014, 15u30-17u.

VU University, Main Building, Room 1E24, De Boelenlaan 1105, Amsterdam

Games can be powerful tools for motivating civic participation. They have demonstrated effectiveness in learning outcomes, charitable giving, and even public participation. Governments and NGOs are eager to adopt games andgame-based processes to aid in this work, but to what end? This talk provides a critical analysis of how governments and NGOs are thinking about the “use” of games and the design of play in cultivating citizen engagement. Too often, the focus on gamification and efficiency dominate the discourse around tech-enabled citizen participation, where democracy is presented as an instrumental process, rather than a constructive one. There is need to understand the relationship between what institutions want from games and what they want from democracy, and to scrutinize the (dis)connections.

Eric Gordon is a researcher and game designer who investigates how games and social media can enhance civic learning and local engagement. He is the executive director of the Engagement Lab and an associate professor in the department of Visual and Media Arts at Emerson College. He is the co-author (with Adriana de Souza e Silva) of the book Net Locality: Why Location Matters in a Networked World (2011) and the author of The Urban Spectator: American Concept-cities from Kodak to Google (2010). Professor Gordon is currently a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University.

His game Participatory Chinatown was designed to engage people in Boston’s Chinatown in the city’s master planning process. It was named “best direct impact” game in 2011 by the organization Games for Change. He has designed games in partnership with governments, community groups and international organizations such as the United Nations Development Program, and the International Red Cross.


Martijn de Waal

Martijn de Waal (1972) is a writer, researcher and strategist, working in the field of digital media and (urban) culture. He is currently a senior researcher at the Play & Civic Media group at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences.

He has worked with and for various clients and organizations such as The Netherlands Architecture Institute, Open Society Foundation, The Architectural League of New York, Lift@Home, Kitchen Budapest, The Mondriaan Foundation and Dutch Public Broadcasting.

Formerly he was part of the New Media, Public Sphere and Urban Culture research group at the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Groningen, and connected to the department of mediastudies at the University of Amsterdam. In 2009 he was a visiting scholar at MIT’s Center for Future Civic Media.

His most recent book are The City as Interface. How Digital Media Are Changing the City (NAi010 Publishers, 2014) and De Platformsamenleving (The Platform Society), co-authored with Jose van Dijck en Thomas Poell (Amsterdam University Press, 2016)