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Urban Gamification for City Reappropriations

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ReClaim (Urban Gamification for City Reappropriations)

Reporting period: 2018-09-04 to 2020-09-03

Play has always had its place in the city. From simple games like “don't walk on the pavement lines” to location-based games such as Pokémon Go or playful manifestations like flash-mobs, many playful practices use the urban spaces as their playground. Today, however, city-play is acquiring a new, important dimension: it is seen, more and more, as an antidote to the anonymity of the urban environment. The inhabitants of cities feel increasingly powerless and disconnected in face of the changes brought by globalisation, gentrification, segregation, and the ICT revolution. Urban play, on the other hand, reinforces the perception of “city ownership”: it is an activity that requires immersion and light-hearted engagement and is able to unite people around a shared experience: cities that play together stay together.
If broken windows theory claims that urban disorder leads to increased crime rates and lower quality of life, city-play is a catalyst of positivity, making urban spaces feel more friendly and safe. Play is a powerful tool capable of promoting senses of ownership, community, and belonging which all contribute to improving urban life and the well-being of citizens.
The project ReClaim, mapping the existing urban play activities and proposing a new, bottom-up approach to gamification, built a concrete and methodologically sound framework on how to use playfulness to make cities more liveable and inclusive to be used by activists, designers, gamifiers and researchers.

The main objective of the project was to construct a multidisciplinary methodology for the analysis and implementation of playful gamified activities taking place in urban spaces.

The project also addressed a methodological objective: to outline a new way of doing gamification, capable of addressing the issues related to this practice and of promoting critical thinking and bottom-up playfulness in the participants.

Finally, ReClaim aimed to have an important impact on the career of the Experienced Researcher, Dr Mattia Thibault, allowing him to reach a position of independence and leadership in game and gamification research.
ReClaim was articulated in three main Work Packages. In WP1 the Experienced Researcher (ER) has successfully integrated several multidisciplinary perspectives focusing on urban areas (urban semiotics, architecture, urban sociology), on gamification (gamification research, critical design, punk studies) and on their intersection (playable cities, the ludic city, pervasive play) and created a solid theoretical platform for the study of urban gamification.
In WP2 the ER applied the theoretical platform to several real-life scenarios. On the one hand, he has analysed several case studies. A secondment period of 3 months in Amsterdam allowed the ER to meet directly with the creators of several activities of urban gamification, such as the group of students behind the Asphyxia data visualisation project (at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences) and members of the company PUSH, creators of the MUV app within the Hozion 2020 project “Mobility Urban Values”. On the other hand, the ER has been involved in the design and implementation of several gamified and playful activities, in particular: “Rook” a playful data visualisation device aiming at the dissemination of air quality data (with Artur Cordeiro, in partnership with Waag); “Jurassic Tampere” a urban toyification activity in which participants would hide hundreds of small toy dinosaurs in the urban spaces for citizens to find and “Etsijä’s Call” a conference game designed for GamiFIN conference 2020 with Oğuz 'Oz' Buruk and Nikoletta Zampeta Legaki. The analysis of the case studies and the design of such playful devices and activities contributed dramatically to reinforcing and sharpening the analytical and design tools created by ReClaim.
Finally, in WP3 the ER has integrated and developed the results of the previous two WPs so to create a novel and unique framework for urban gamification.

The main scientific achievement of ReClaim, hence, is the construction of a solid, usable, multidisciplinary framework for the study and realisation of activities involving city-play, capable of guiding the analysis and creation of gamified activities aimed at reclaiming public urban spaces. The framework adnd the various steps to create it have been disseminated thanks to 18 main deliverables consisting in academic publications, keynote presentations at international conferences and white papers and best practices for the non-academic sectors. Other dissemination activities included conference presentations, interviews to the media, workshops, participation in a museum exhibition and intense activities of social media outreach.
ReClaim was articulated in three main Work Packages. In WP1 the Experienced Researcher (ER) has successfully integrated several multidisciplinary perspectives focusing on urban areas (urban semiotics, architecture, urban sociology), on gamification (gamification research, critical design, punk studies) and on their intersection (playable cities, the ludic city, pervasive play) and created a solid theoretical platform for the study of urban gamification.
In WP2 the ER applied the theoretical platform to several real-life scenarios. On the one hand, he has analysed several case studies, among which the Asphyxia data visualisation project (at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences) and the MUV app by Horizon2020 project “Mobility Urban Values”. On the other hand, the ER has been involved in the design and implementation of several gamified and playful activities, in particular: “Rook” a playful data visualisation device aiming at the dissemination of air quality data (with Artur Cordeiro, in partnership with Waag); “Jurassic Tampere” a urban toyification activity and “Etsijä’s Call” a conference game designed for GamiFIN2020 conference with Oğuz 'Oz' Buruk and Nikoletta Zampeta Legaki. The analysis of the case studies and the design of such playful devices and activities contributed dramatically to reinforcing and sharpening the analytical and design tools created by ReClaim.
Finally, in WP3 the ER has integrated and developed the results of the previous two WPs so to create a novel and unique framework for urban gamification.

The main scientific achievement of ReClaim, hence, is the construction of a solid, usable, multidisciplinary framework for the study and realisation of activities involving city-play, capable of guiding the analysis and creation of gamified activities aimed at reclaiming public urban spaces. The framework and the various steps to create it have been disseminated thanks to 18 main deliverables consisting in academic publications, keynote presentations at international conferences and white papers and best practices for the non-academic sectors. Other dissemination activities included conference presentations, interviews to the media, workshops, participation in a museum exhibition and intense activities of social media outreach.