The NIMBY Game

Posted on Sunday, June 21st, 2009 at 12:43 am by Jeremy in prototype | No Comments

We’ve spent the last couple of meetings working out the details of a really interesting game that we believe will create productive situations in which players compete but with the end goal of insuring that everyone wins — that is, the object of the game is to work together, negotiate differences, and hopefully learn skills that can translate into civil discourse within the commons. The value of such a problem-solving game is to suggest new formats for engagement within the realm of social media.

The NIMBY game (as most may know, that’s “not in my back yard”) challenges a group of four players to basically plan a city in such a way that the quality of life for all players is maximized. Players are forced to make difficult decisions and compromises in order to place a range of urban elements — parks, factories, a casino, a convention center, and so on — so that they do not disproportionately affect any one neighborhood. (Interesting¬† how so much of our other work outside of this project factors into this particular game!) The rules and physical prototype of the game are in development and we’ll be testing it soon.

While we think that this is quite an exciting game, the challenge before us is to more specifically connect it to the social media and communication technology that are the focus of this design research project. Ultimately, I think that the game must be developed as an online multi-player application (probably not feasible for this first phase), but there are opportunities for other iterations in the physical domain — experiments with limited language, other mediated communication, etc. — that we can explore as well. Any thoughts?