Problem: the space under a bridge has become home to drug dealers and a target for fly-tippers. What do you do?
The answer for many authorities would be to increase police patrols and enclose the area with a barbed-wire fence. Not Fremont, Seattle, as Jim Diers explained in a talk in Brighton a week ago (well done to the Council for persuading Jim to come and speak: watch this space to see how readily they embrace his ideas). No, in Seattle (in 1989) a competition was organised to find a sculpture to sit under the bridge. 5 designs were short-listed and the artists created models which the community voted on during the annual fair. The troll won!
Jim went on to talk about how 19 neighbourhoods had been "created" in Seattle each with their own mini town halls, and how, over the last 20 years, hugely inspiring projects have transformed these neighbourhoods. For example, the district with almost no open space has created a new park every year for the last 20 years. If you want to find out more about the work Jim has been doing, see here. As I listened to the talk, I couldn't but help see how this all fits perfectly into the House of Games structure; particularly as the terms "ground up", "community involvement", "mentoring", "fun" popped up left, right and centre.
And of course this all ties in with my views on gamification. Have these projects come about because of points and badges? No. Have they come about because the projects are fun, give people a sense of agency, solve problems, and generally make people feel better? Yes.
Furthermore, these projects come about because people believe in them, and very often because of the persuasive powers of one or two people who persist in getting their ideas to reality very often in the face of obstacle after hurdle after no money after initial lack of interest. As a game designer, I feel their pain! So the question remains: Where would you put your troll?