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Playful Cities: Crowdsourcing Urban Happiness with Web Games

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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.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2016-09-01

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  • Built Environment is published quarterly in March, June, September and December. With an emphasis on crossing disciplinary boundaries and providing global perspective, each issue focuses on a single subject of contemporary interest to practitioners, academics and students working in a wide range of disciplines. Issues are guest-edited by established international experts who not only commission contributions, but also oversee the peer-reviewing process in collaboration with the Editors.

    Subject areas include: architecture; conservation; economic development; environmental planning; health; housing; regeneration; social issues; spatial planning; sustainability; urban design; and transport. All issues include reviews of recent publications.

    The journal is abstracted in Geo Abstracts, Sage Urban Studies Abstracts, and Journal of Planning Literature, and is indexed in the Avery Index to Architectural Publications.

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