Gamification is one of the recent innovative trends in participatory urban planning that encourages engagement through adding game-like elements to the otherwise non-gaming environments. arki_nopoly is a response to this trend. arki_nopoly is a board-game tool that aims to activate and involve citizens in urban design processes. It is designed to aid the users to gain a better understanding of their local area. The main objectives of the game are: learning about basic socio-spatial analysis, problem identification, and idea articulation.
arki_nopoly builds on the idea that learning could be increased through gaming as it is more attractive and dynamic compared to the traditional teaching methods. The gaming effect is not only important in the case of children and young people, it is also highly valuable in the case of adults. This is because adults may not learn the same way as children, and gaming is a way to introduce various concepts to them and to increase their awareness about their living environment. Gamification is also great way to include those who are alienated from the planning and design discourse, as it presents the complex concepts in a simple and comprehensive way.
Arki_nopoly follows the universally accessible board-game design principles, which is easy for everyone to relate to and grasp quickly. The game is centered around an area, which could be as small as a room or as big as a city, and the aim of the game is for the players to know their immediate surroundings with its potentials and shortcomings better, analyze it, reflect on it and come up with suggestions for its improvement. All of this is done in a simple way: through a set of questions placed around the board. With every new question that is answered, the players acquire more insight into the area. After all the questions are answered, the players are asked to look at all the information that they have gathered throughout the game, and come up with design solutions for the area, based on their previous findings.
What is important about arki_nopoly is that it makes us discuss our living environment, criticize it and see its beauties. It enables us to see our living environment as something we can have an influence on, instead of something immutable that we just have to live with. But on top of this all, through playing arki_nopoly we can create a database of citizens’ ideas and suggestions for their city, which could largely benefit us in urban development.
The flexible structure of the game makes it possible to use it in a diverse range of projects. The game has been played at schools with kids, at the university with students, at a deprived neighborhood with the inhabitants, and in mixed groups of players from all ages. In the beginning of 2016, to make the game even more flexible and accessible to a larger audience, arki_lab decided to digitize arki_lab. The process was kick-started in June 2016 in Wollongong, and in collaboration with SMART Infrastructure Facility at the University of Wollongong and it is expected that the first prototype is released in September 2016.