Social Gaming as a Participatory Urban Design Process




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Cities are the past, present, and future of humanity. How we develop our built environment directly affects our long-term wellbeing and viability as a species. Social issues such as crime and violence, obesity and related diseases, the shrinking middle class, and climate change may all be exacerbated by our development patterns. Every profession and stakeholder work toward making better places in their own way while unintended consequences proliferate. A core presumption of this work is that most urban development in developed nations suggests an emphasis on short-term growth and return on investment while neglecting essential human factors. While the resulting social, financial, and political problems are often discussed at every level, the contributing factors related to wellbeing and the built environment are usually not. Here we show how we can contribute to improving the built environment through social gaming with the intent to shift toward long-term wellbeing outcomes. We find that walkability is a leading proximal precondition for wellbeing for all people. Through deconstructing urban patterns, complexity, and various heuristics, this dissertation works towards a new interactive design process for developing places where humanity thrives. Harnessing concepts and methods from User Experience, public participation, gaming and simulation, geodesign, crowdsourcing, and algorithms may enhance the urban design process, enfranchize more people, and yield better results. More holistically, we aim to answer the question of how to make better places by engaging the professions and the public with emerging technologies. In an age where automation is determining more outcomes, this dissertation makes a case for inclusive design as a way forward. Together we can feel, think, learn, and understand what better enables our prosperity and what constitutes better places for us all. Harnessing and nurturing this ability is the purpose of this dissertation.



Simulation games, City planning—Citizen participation, City planning—Health aspects, Crowdsourcing, Well-being


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