There are a growing number of games that are location-based. They use mobile devices and locative technologies to turn physical space into a game board. Games like Foursquare get people moving from place to place, exploring the world around them and potentially meeting people nearby. But while many games use location as the context for interaction, few use location as the content for interaction. Local Engagement Games (LEGs) are location-based games designed for the specificity of a location, with the intention of integrating into local cultures and local institutions. They reinforce existing geographical communities because the rules of the game are couched within existing rules of civic participation. Whether it’s a game built around a town hall meeting or a government planning process, LEGs scaffold local processes to foster community and commitment to civic life.
In this talk, Gordon discusses two LEGs developed at the Engagement Game Lab. Participatory Chinatown is a 3-D role-playing game designed to be integrated into the master planning process of Boston’s Chinatown. And CommunityPlanIt, a location-based mobile game platform (in development), is designed to engage neighborhoods in official planning processes, while forging geographically-based communities and advocacy groups around local issues.
Eric Gordon is an associate professor in the Department of Visual and Media Arts at Emerson College and director of the new Engagement Game Lab. He is the author of The Urban Spectator: American Concept-cities from Kodak to Google (Dartmouth, 2010) and the co-author of the forthcoming book tentatively titled, Net Locality: Why Location Matters in a Networked World (Blackwell, 2011).