Does gaming have a place in government?
Part of our research focus at Manor Labs is to discover new ways of communicating and engaging the public. The following two concepts came out of that research.
The new form of social network-based online gaming has become all the rage on popular social networking sites. From a government standpoint, we have determined that these platforms are distractions and subsequently block them from use by our employees. However, letâ€™s propose a new thought; what if we used these tools to educate and engage our public?
Here are two concepts for using game mechanics proactively within government:
The first concept takes Zynga’s FarmVille game model to an entirely new levelâ€”the government. We could create an online game with the simplicity of FarmVille, but the mechanics of a real city. Thereâ€™s currently a social network game called MyTown that is similar to this model, however, it doesnâ€™t accurately encompass concepts like taxation and cost of service within the game model (but itâ€™s a great start). If the government built on their example, we could create a more empowered and educated citizen base.
Letâ€™s say we built an online game that was as engaging as FarmVille, but incorporated real governmental concepts in the process. Which concepts are important to start with?
- Taxation: Have the gamer adjust taxes but also have it tied to public opinion (similar to Sim City, but less complex).
- Cost of Service: Have responding to police calls, water line breaks, etc., demonstrate a cost of service for government.
After you establish a sizable base of game players, you could increase the difficulty of the game by incorporating â€œrealâ€ crowdsourced governmental elements within the game model.
For example, Manor Labs is always looking for new ways to get people to review ideas using very simple metric that takes less than 30 seconds to complete. Incorporating this element as a challenge within an online game would allow participants to not only advance within the game, but also help our agency out in the process.
This game concept could be expanded as not only as a new way to teach individuals about government, but as a new way to learn from them.
â€œFoursquare aims to encourage people to explore their neighborhoods and then reward people for doing so. We do this by combining our friend-finder and social city guide elements with game mechanics – our users earn points, win mayorships and unlock badges for trying new places and revisiting old favorites.â€
Building on that model, each agency could allow citizens to “check-in” at various city spots (Library, Fire Station, etc.) and learn more about their community in a fun and engaging format. This could also help open up the door for their participating in other crowdsourced programs like SeeClickFix.
In our ever changing society, civic participation and engagement are becoming more and more difficult to achieve. I believe these elements are more obtainable by incorporating certain elements of game mechanics in the process. These ideas are just two examples of how such mechanics can be utilized to create a more empowered and educated citizen-base.
Every day I get to engage with entrepreneurs, public sector innovators and journalists on re-imagining and re-energizing how government works, what it means to be “civic,” and this year has been an incredible one for many friends and colleagues.
I’m always inspired talking and working with entrepreneurs trying to solve big civic problems, especially those who realize much of the challenge lies within modernizing and empowering internal government operations, so it was great to finally meet with Govtech Fund Founder and Managing Partner Ron Bouganim this week.
The 18F Delivery team released a “Partnership Playbook” that aims to help federal agencies understand what to expect when working with 18F, and the gem within is play number two, “We work with an empowered product owner.”
Citizens simply glaze over when they are confronted by a sea of large numbers with many zeros. These figures need to be relatable to the person reading the data. Otherwise, open data is just more data that dies on the vine.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs released a beta version of Vets.gov, and it’s the future of federal government digital development.
The Welsh Government released a report of its findings on how local government in Wales can better leverage digital technologies and realize significant savings while still providing quality, scalable citizen services.
A California bipartisan oversight committee, the Little Hoover Commission, has issued recommendations on how the state can bring a more customer-centric government to residents and visitors.
Seneca Systems CEO Chris Maddox shares the inspiration behind the new constituent relationship management system, Romulus.
“No ugly, old IT” jumped out at me when I first reviewed DataSF’s strategic plan, “Data in San Francisco: Meeting supply, spurring demand,” and it still sticks, mostly because someone inside government was so bold as to make this a priority and openly communicate it and also because this should be a mantra for everyone building civic technology.
Enabling internal government tech shops to quickly stand up applications in a secure testing environment is fundamental to quick prototyping, and 18F’s new Cloud.gov is a major step in realizing ultimate IT flexibility.