Urban Transition: Games are Political: Challenging Municipal Urban Planning Practices for Sustainable Urban Development and Mutual Learning Through Game-Co-designing

Mette Agger Eriksen*, Maria Hellström Reimer, Majken Toftager Larsen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearch


This chapter draws on experiences and lessons learned from a process of hands-on, reflective game co-design process. The case study was a part of the Urban Transition Öresund project (2012–14) which involved urban researchers, professional game designers, and civil servants working with complex, cross-sector urban planning tasks in four municipalities in Scandinavia. The process included framing, co-designing, testing, and playing the ‘Urban Transition’ game – explored in various real-world urban planning processes focusing on sustainable development. By analyzing four co-design and play-testing situations from the game co-designing process, the chapter aims to elaborate on games as formats for collaboration, negotiation, and mutual learning. The central claim is that games are political – in the sense that they can re-open taken-for-granted urban planning themes by drawing attention to value foundations and rules; can reveal assumptions about others by actualizing tensions and conflicts; and can challenge current and future municipal practices by highlighting situated, socio-material and collaborative interactions. Therefore, in urban planning processes aimed at sustainable development, games and game co-designing should not be seen as de-politicized quick fixes but rather as political platforms for challenging yet vital negotiation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Companion to Games in Architecture and Urban Planning : Tools for Design, Teaching and Research
EditorsMarta Brković Dodig , Linda N. Groat
Publication date2020
ISBN (Print)9781138339026
ISBN (Electronic)9780429441325
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Cite this