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Discovering the Appropriate Role of Serious Games in the Design of Open Governance Platforms

Author: TANYA M. KELLEY and ERIK JOHNSTON
Published in PAQ, Vol. 36 No. 4

Advances in communication and computational technology have drastically increased opportunities for the public to participate in governing activities. Well-designed responsive participatory pathways can encourage individuals to take action on issues that are important to them while receiving value and enjoyment in contributing to the overall welfare of the state. However, many crowdsourcing programs do not achieve their intended targets or goals in part because people have little motivation to participate. Serious games are examined to address this challenge as they involve the integration of intrinsic human motivators with game mechanics or game dynamics into a website, service, community, campaign, or application to drive participation and engagement. Governments can supplement open governance platforms with characteristics of games to reshape and invigorate public participation if individuals have opportunities to participate through channels that are collectively and individually rewarding. Drawing on theory and an emerging body of examples this manuscript creates a framework for how governance organizations can integrate serious games into the design of open governance platforms to improve the understanding of how the platform affects the working relationship with the public when solving collective challenges. Contributions of serious games are how to foster dialog, educate, solicit feedback, and mobilize individuals. In identifying the characteristics that differentiate early projects that have succeeded with those that have struggled, we provide recommendations of how to cultivate voluntary and enthusiastic participation in open governance platforms– giving the public the opportunity and motivation to have an impact on the communities in which they live just as many already do in the virtual worlds in which they play.

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