Serious Games for Serious Civic Engagement
Use The Power of Collaborative, Serious Games to Engage Citizens and
Resolve Our Budget Crises
It’s no secret. We’re broke. Local governments, state governments, the U.S. Federal Government and many international governments are all facing budget shortfalls, spending cuts and reduced services. All of us — ordinary citizens, elected officials, civic and community leaders — know that we must make dramatic changes and tough choices to solve this crisis. But how do we engage our communities in identifying and prioritizing the best possible solutions? How do we create more engaged and informed citizens?
Our Answer? Fix Broke(n) Governments through Serious Games
On January 29, 2011, The Innovation Games® Company designed and produced an in-person serious game to help more than 100 citizens, community leaders and city officials in San Jose, CA collaboratively prioritize possible cuts to the city budget.
Instead of polling residents individually, our specially designed Innovation Game®, the San Jose Budget Games, created an opportunity for ordinary citizens to negotiate with one another, listen to their neighbors and create budgets that reflected not only their own but others viewpoints. Civic leaders left the San Jose Budget Games with both a clear and actionable list of the proposals citizens could compromise on and also a record of why they had found common ground—and the game results have impacted the actual city budget.
Our experience with the city of San Jose has convinced us that games are a powerful tool for civic engagement: Thus we’re seeking funds to extend our existing in-person version of Budget Games into an online version. Instead of engaging hundreds of citizens, we want to powerfully connect tens of thousands or even millions of motivated citizens with their elected officials—and we need your help to get this done.