Workshop with Eric Gordon urban gaming & civil participation on digital media platforms, 24 June 2014

As a follow-up event on Eric Gordon’s public lecture on June 23, we’re co-organizing a small closed workshop session with Eric Gordon and a number of urban game professionals on June 24, 2014.

Workshop with Eric Gordon about urban gaming & civil participation on digital media platforms

June 24, 2014 10:00 − 13:30 at FreedomLab, Plantage Middenlaan 62, 1018 DH Amsterdam. Map:


Community PlanIt - Eric Gordon |

Community PlanIt – Eric Gordon |

Background Reading

Gordon, Eric and Jessica Baldwin-Philippi “Playful Civic Learning: Enabling Reflection and Lateral Trust in Game-based Public Participation” International Journal of Communication 8 (2014): 759-786.


About the workshop

We are observing a transition from an experience economy to a ludic economy, in which participation, creating active experiences as practices, and ownership are key elements. The omnipresence of digital media technologies brings their playful qualities and affordances to urban settings. This raises the question how these media can be used for more than just personalized experiences but to engage citizens with their urban environment, with other people, and with complex urban issues. Playing games and developing game literacy can be a way to learn how to deal with complexity and diversity in heterogeneous urban societies. It allows people for instance to fathom procedural rules, to imagine oneself in other roles and see with different eyes, and to probe, analyze and safely experiment with potential solutions to wicked problems though simulation and reduction. Moreover, free play and rule-driven games can be ways to engage people with complex urban issues and to feel ownership of the outcomes. In addition, various disciplines can learn each other’s vocabulary by playing games. In opposition to the technology-driven rationalized efficiency of smart city policies, the use of playful media platforms taps into the creativity and emotional attachment of citizens and stakeholders.

In this half-day workshop twenty professionals from various disciplines like academia, game design, urban design, media institutions will discuss how games can be used in collaborative research and design processes for complex urban issues.

The aims of this workshops are:

– To share knowledge about the use of games, and other digital media platforms for civic engagement.

– Getting to know each other and forge interdisciplinary connections.

– To explore and research the question what chances there are for the future of this burgeoning field.

Special guest is Eric Gordon (Emerson College en Harvard), expert in urban games and civic participation. More about Eric’s work: and

Civic Seed - Eric Gordon |

Civic Seed – Eric Gordon |



9:30 Doors open, fresh coffee

10:00 − 10:10 Welcome by host Jeroen van Mastrigt; Introduction Ginette Verstraete (VU) about aims of workshop, introducing our guest Eric Gordon. Additional short remarks by Martijn de Waal & Michiel de Lange about the playable city.

10:10 − 11:00 Exploration: the ca. 20 participants each get 2 minutes to introduce themselves (what are you bringing, what would you like to get out of this meeting?). Everyone is invited to briefly show one case that illustrates civic participation through games and digital media platforms, as well as to bring in an issue to further develop in the workshop. (moderator Jeroen van Mastrigt)

11:00 – 11:15 Introduction by Eric Gordon

11:15 − 12:00 Analysis: Central is the question how participants from their own professional expertise, and in collaborations between disciplines like media makers, game design, urban design, academics, are using play and games in collaborative urban design processes. What types of complex urban issues can games be used for? What is the strength and added value of urban games in durable civic engagement? What media platforms are successful mediators? Can we discern productive differences and similarities between the various disciplines in civic gaming? (moderator Michiel de Lange)

We will divide the issues brought up in the Exploration phase in four clusters, and divide participants in four groups to discuss these issues.

12:00 − 12:30 Short lunch break

12:30 − 13:15 Reporting back & Synthesis: Each group will report back the main findings / examples and we will discuss these. (4 x 10 minutes + 5 min round up) (moderator Martijn de Waal)

13:15 – 13:30 Actions: we would like to close off by discussing possibilities for future collaborations. Are we interested in developing this theme further, by exploring the possibilities of a future publication, writing a proposal for a research grant, or in any other way? (Moderator Ginette Verstraete)


The workshop is organized by Ginette Verstraete (VU), Martijn de Waal (UvA / and Michiel de Lange (UU/, and kindly hosted by Jeroen van Mastrigt (

Michiel de Lange

Michiel de Lange (1976) is an Assistant Professor in New Media Studies at Utrecht University, researching mobile media and urban culture and identity. He is the co-founder of The Mobile City, an independent research group founded in 2007 that investigates the influence of digital media technologies on urban life and the implications for urban design and policy. Michiel is trained as a cultural anthropologist, and holds a PhD in philosophy (2010) with a dissertation about mobile media technologies and urban identities. He collaborated in a locative media art & science project ( He worked for  Kennisland, a Dutch think-tank that aims to strengthen the knowledge-based society. Here he worked on several projects at the intersection of ICTs and the city, e.g. co-organizing the Creative Capital conference. He also volunteered and worked for Cybersoek, a computer neighborhood center in Amsterdam. He is advisor e-culture at Mediafonds.
Michiel is on Twitter and LinkedIn.