Philadelphia, January 25, 2013 – As part of the ongoingPhiladelphia2035 comprehensive planning process, the Philadelphia City Planning Commission (PCPC) is piloting a web-based computer game in an effort to engage with more Philadelphians about the projects and policies shaping the city. On January 28, the PCPC will launchPHL2035: The Game!, an interactive website that takes players through questions and scenarios regarding the University/Southwest Planning District, an area which includes the neighborhoods of Kingsessing, Cedar Park, Walnut Hill, Spruce Hill, Powelton Village, Saunders Park, West Powelton, West Shore, and University City.
The game takes the planning process online. It informs individuals of current trends in the city’s development, while asking them to think about future improvements, weighing in on proposed projects and making choices about local priorities. Players can use pre-loaded maps, charts and other materials as clues to answer factual questions. There are also opportunities for open-ended comment and discussion about issues ranging from zoning changes and bike lanes to housing policy.
“My Administration is committed to planning for Philadelphia’s future with the input of its citizens. PHL2035: The Game! allows the City to use technology to directly engage residents on the issues that matter in their individual community,” Mayor Michael A. Nutter said.
Players earn video coins for correct answers, which can then be used as votes in support of local causes such as cleanups or tree plantings. The three most popular causes will receive $500 donations at the game’s conclusion with the money being supplied by an award from the Knight Foundation. The prizes are a way to connect the longer-term focus of the game to incremental progress happening now.
Planners hope that the game will attract participants who are often unable to attend community meetings, including seniors, school-age children, and those whose work schedules conflict with evening events. The goal is to attract more than 1,000 individuals during the game’s three-week run, which ends February 18.
“We are always looking for ways to engage in meaningful discussions with the public to produce plans that balance local interests with economic realities,” said Gary Jastrzab, Executive Director of the PCPC. “PHL2035: The Game! is an opportunity to foster an in-depth discussion not only between our staff and the public, but between Philadelphians from different neighborhoods and backgrounds. We expect to share and generate a lot of valuable data, and achieve a better understanding of neighborhood priorities in the process.”
PHL2035: The Game! is a local application of an existing online platform called Community PlanIt, which has been deployed to enrich planning processes in Massachusetts and Michigan to date. Community PlanIt is a project of the Engagement Game Lab and is funded by the Knight Foundation. The Philadelphia game is a partnership between the Philadelphia City Planning Commission and the Engagement Game Lab.
The partnership came about through Philadelphia’s recently-formed Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, whose co-directors made the introduction between the game developers and the PCPC. “We’re looking forward to seeing the game in action in a city as diverse and dynamic as Philadelphia,” says Dr. Eric Gordon, director of Engagement Game Lab. “This is a new way to participate in civic life and long-term planning, and we think it is a great addition to their other outreach efforts.”
The game is another piece in an array of education and outreach efforts undertaken by the Philadelphia City Planning Commission in recent years, including the Citizens Planning Institute; an agency blog;Facebook and Twitter accounts; and a text-message-based feedback tool called Textizen, which will be making a return in conjunction with PHL2035: The Game!
PHL2035: The Game! will be available until February 18 from any computer or smart phone, including KEYSPOTs, the city’s network of free public computing centers. To sign up for the game and learn more, visit www.phila2035.org andhttp://www.communityplanit.org/PHL2035/.