Playful Cities: Crowdsourcing Urban Happiness with Web Games

Daniele Quercia in Built Environment: “It is well known that the layout and configuration of urban space plugs directly into our sense of community wellbeing. The twentieth-century city planner Kevin Lynch showed that a city’s dwellers create their own personal ‘mental maps’ of the city based on features such as the routes they use and the areas they visit. Maps that are easy to remember and navigate bring comfort and ultimately contribute to people’s wellbeing. Unfortunately, traditional social science experiments (including those used to capture mental maps) take time, are costly, and cannot be conducted at city scale. This paper describes how, starting in mid-2012, a team of researchers from a variety of disciplines set about tackling these issues. They were able to translate a few traditional experiments into 1-minute ‘web games with a purpose’. This article describes those games, the main insights they offer, their theoretical implications for urban planning, and their practical implications for improvements in navigation technologies….(More)”