Friday, January 25, 2013

The Philly Planning Commission Seeks Engagement Through An Online Game

First there was Dots and Dashes, a board game (often a map) developed by the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) that could be played at community meetings. Its purpose was to match planning ideas and resources to flesh out the transportation preferences of the participants.

Then DVRPC took the concept behind Dots and Dashes developed an online exercise called Choices and Voices for its 2040 Long Range Plan. Now the Philadelphia City Planning Commission has launched its own game to engage Philadelphians with its PHL2035 plan. The game and website are called Community PlanIt.

The website's description: "Community PlanIt is a game that makes planning playful. Over a series of timed missions, players compete with one another to contribute ideas and deliberate about planning their community. By completing challenges, players earn awards and collect coins, which they then pledge to sponsor real world causes. In the end, the top causes are awarded real project funding."

Development plan for Gray's Ferry Crescent, as
envisioned by an 8 year old in 1991
Last spring Community PlanIt hosted a game for the Detroit Works Project which drew 1,000 participants along with 8,400 comments. The results were an impressive degree of engagement, as 74% of those commenting were under the age of 35.

The game for the University/Southwest District 2035 plan begins on Monday with the first of three missions. Each mission will be live for a week. To sign up for the game go to

Of course online planning games is nothing new. According to Wikipedia the SimCity game was first developed for the Commodore 64 in 1985. SimCity has evolved into a very detailed program with tax assessments, budget constraints, and real-time traffic jams. We suppose it's only a matter of time before these two fields merge and you can participate in the future of Philadelphia's development via your XBox controller.