By Anton Nijholt
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Additional info for Playable Cities: The City as a Digital Playground
Through the description of three games developed for the Hackable City project, and through a reflective designer interview, we have given evidence for the use of game mechanics as horizontal connectors between domains (from entertainment games to research games, and from research games to city-making), and as vertical connectors between different levels of abstraction (from the complex, multiform practices of city-making to the simplified versions enacted through games). More generally, we argue that this integrated approach can enable designers and researchers to model, simplify and communicate complex contextual elements.
Today, we can still see the strength of this concept in, for example, Apple’s naming of their laptop computer, a MacBook. Along the same lines, Höök and Löwgren note how “design-oriented research practices create opportunities for constructing knowledge that is more abstract than particular instances, yet does not aspire to the generality of a theory” (2012), an intermediate level that contains evaluative or generative elements such as guidelines, criticism, design patterns, annotated portfolios, and strong concepts.
Three game mechanics/strong concepts were isolated: Refereed Arguments, Shared Narratives, and Duality of Resources. Refereed Arguments points equally Games as Strong Concepts for City-Making 41 at mechanics asking players to make persuasive argumentations on why a certain in-game action would have a positive outcome (as exemplified in our Buikslo‐ terham Matrix, and in all other Matrix games), but also at the negotiations that inevitably take place in informal groups of citizens dealing with city-making processes.