­­money.jpg November 7, 2008, New York - The Columbia University Institute for Tele-Information sponsored a Play Theory Play Money seminar that attracted the city’s leading electronic game theorists and developers. The seminar’s goal was to explore ways the growing game industry might be attracted to, and cultivated, here in New York City.

I’ve been a proponent of using games to engage the public in the governance process since 2002 when Queens Community Board 3 opened its website to an apathetic public. The dark realization of how dull and tedious 99% of the public found local governance issues led me first to SecondLife’s virtual world and then other explorations of ways to make “governance as engaging as baseball” as I like to say.

At Play Money I presented 3 game related thoughts for the participants to ponder. First, I sought interest in developing a game that would use an environmental sustainability metaphor for selecting New York City’s important domain names. Dubbed Civic Hero, the premise is that certain civic domain names are vital to the city’s future, with some easily identified – gov.nyc, soho.nyc, mayor.nyc, schools.nyc – and others are more difficult, e.g., community events, monuments. Civic Hero imagines a game that makes uncovering these civic domain names into a contest. Two games were suggested for inspiration and example: MajorMinor which Michael Mandel designed to categorize songs, and Google Image Labeler which Luis von Ahn designed to label images.

I also proffered that virtual.nyc, a map of the city as accessible as SecondLife, but linked into real life sensors – video cameras, cell phones, RFIDs (where’s Orwell?) - is being discussed, and that such a virtual city will provide the foundation for games that cross pollinate the real and the virtual worlds. And I challenged participants to think of games that might be developed using virtual.nyc as their foundation.

Finally, I suggested that the  games.nyc domain name might provide a rallying point and  organizing force for the city’s games community and directed participants to a wiki page has been created to follow up on these possibilities.

Tom Lowenhaupt­

Learn more about The Campaign for .nyc on our wiki pages.

Filed November 12th, 2008 under games, social network, Civics

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