‘Mayor for a Day’ – Is Gamified Urban Management the Way Forward?

Paper by Gianluca Sgueo: “…aims at describing the use, exploring the potential – but also at understanding the limits – of the use of ‘gamification’ strategies into urban management. Commonly defined as the introduction of game-design elements into non-game contexts, with the former aimed at making the latter more fun, gamification is recognised among the technological paradigms that are shaping the evolution of public administrations.

The paper is divided in three sections.

SECTION I discusses the definition (and appropriateness of) gamification in urban management, and locates it conceptually at the crossroads between nudging, democratic innovations, and crowdsourcing.

SECTION II analyses the potentials of gamified urban management. Four benefits are assessed: first, gamified urban management seems to encourage adaptation of policy-making to structural/societal changes; second, it offers a chance to local administrators to (re-)gain trust from citizens, and thus be perceived as legitimate; third, it adapts policy-making to budgetary challenges; fourth, it helps to efficiently tackle complex regulatory issues.

SECTION III of this paper turns to consider the risks related with the use of gamification in urban management. The first consists of the obstacles faced by participatory rights within gamified policies; the second risk is defined ‘paradox of incentives’; the third is related with privacy issues. In the concluding section, this paper advances some proposals (or, alternatively, highlight valuable theoretical and empirical research efforts) aimed at solving some of the most pressing threats posed by gamified urban management.

The main features of the case studies described in SECTIONS II and III are summarised in a table at the end of the paper….(More)”.