Playing Games with the Budget: Ideas for Emphasizing the Legislative Elements of Budget-Making Through an Online Multiplayer Toy
14 Pages Posted: 6 Nov 2012
Date Written: November 3, 2012
Since the late 1980s, planners and researchers have explored -- and generally touted -- the use of participatory budget processes to educate and engage stakeholders; participatory budgeting has been celebrated for its potential to improve participation and the legitimacy of government decisions, and may even hold promise to deliver the "collective intelligence" benefits of "crowdsourcing." In a related vein, recent public, media, and educational projects have built on an established tradition of planning and policy games and "serious play" -- including role-playing games, scenario planning exercises, and simulation models -- to educate, engage, and challenge citizens around public budget questions. In this paper, existing participatory budgets efforts and existing budget games are discussed, with an eye towards a fusion of the strengths of both approaches. Importantly -- even in game-play situations -- it is essential to view public budgets as the result of legislative processes (as opposed to spreadsheet-balancing exercises) involving (1) interactive deliberation between competing viewpoints (as opposed to solitary expressions of individual priorities) in (2) open-ended, free-form settings (as opposed to rigid, rule-based systems). Based on this analysis, the second half of the paper presents a proposed concept for a new online, multiplayer, budget game.
Keywords: games, participatory budget, participation, planning, Nomic
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