Gamification in policymaking

Gamification is the application of game-design elements and game principles in non-game contexts. It can be used in government policymaking to engage citizens, enhance transparency, and facilitate participatory governance. Before we delve into how it can be used in policymaking, let’s first understand the fundamental elements of gaming:

  1. Goals: In every game, there is an objective or a set of objectives that players strive to achieve. These goals give direction and purpose to the game.

  2. Rules: These are the constraints that determine how players can achieve the goals. They maintain order and fairness in the game.

  3. Feedback Systems: Games typically have systems that provide players with information about their performance. This can be in the form of scores, levels, badges, or other types of rewards.

  4. Voluntary Participation: Players willingly accept the goals, rules, and feedback systems of the game.

Now, let’s discuss how these elements can be integrated into government policymaking through gamification:

1. Citizen Engagement: Gamification can help to increase citizen engagement in policymaking. For instance, online platforms can be designed where citizens earn points for participating in discussions about proposed policies. These points could be traded for rewards, such as public recognition, opportunities to meet policymakers, or other incentives. This can make the policymaking process more interesting and motivate more people to get involved.

2. Education and Awareness: Gamification can also be used to educate citizens about complex policy issues. For example, a game could be created that simulates the outcomes of different policy decisions, allowing players to experience the consequences of these decisions in a virtual environment. This could increase public understanding of the policy process and the trade-offs involved in decision-making.

3. Transparency and Trust Building: Government agencies can use gamification to enhance transparency and build trust with citizens. For example, they could develop games that show how public funds are allocated and used, allowing players to suggest improvements. This can make the government’s work more transparent and give citizens a sense of ownership over public funds.

4. Data Collection: Games can also be used to collect valuable data for policymaking. For example, online games could be used to gather information about players’ preferences, behaviors, and values, which could then be used to inform policy decisions.

5. Behavioral Change: Games can be used to encourage behaviors that align with policy goals. For example, a city government trying to reduce carbon emissions might develop a game that rewards citizens for using public transportation, recycling, or engaging in other environmentally-friendly practices.

In conclusion, gamification can make government policymaking more engaging, educational, transparent, and effective. However, it’s important to remember that gamification is not a cure-all solution. It should be used in conjunction with other policy tools, and its use should be guided by a clear understanding of its potential benefits and limitations.


There are several real-world examples where gamification has been effectively used in policymaking. Here are a few:

  1. Budget Games in San Jose: The city of San Jose, California, in collaboration with the nonprofit organization, The Conteneo Inc., implemented a community engagement exercise called “Budget Games”. In this exercise, citizens participated in a game where they had to decide how to allocate the city’s budget. This initiative engaged thousands of citizens and collected their input on budget decisions, helping the city to prioritize spending in a way that reflected the needs and wants of its residents.

  2. Community PlanIt: Created by the Engagement Game Lab at Emerson College, Community PlanIt is an online game that encourages citizens to engage in local planning processes. Players complete missions, earn coins, and pledge them to real-world causes. This platform has been used in numerous places around the world to engage citizens in discussions about local issues, such as education, urban development, and climate change.

  3. Recyclebank: Recyclebank is a private company that partners with cities to encourage recycling. Residents earn points for recycling, which they can redeem for rewards at local and national businesses. This program has led to significant increases in recycling rates in participating cities.

  4. World Without Oil: This was an alternate reality game designed to simulate a global oil shortage and encourage players to think about how they would respond. The game elicited a large number of player-created solutions, which were then analyzed and compiled into a report for policymakers.

  5. Foldit: Though not directly linked to policymaking, Foldit is a crowdsourced science game where players fold proteins to solve puzzles. The solutions have contributed to scientific research and could potentially inform policies related to health and science.

  6. Participatory Chinatown: This 3D immersive game was developed to engage residents of Boston’s Chinatown in the neighborhood planning process. Players assume the roles of virtual residents and face various challenges related to housing, work, and socializing. The game was designed to gather data about residents’ preferences and needs, which was then used to inform urban planning decisions.

These examples show how gamification can be used to engage citizens, collect data, and encourage behaviors that align with policy objectives. While the use of gamification in policymaking is still relatively new, these examples demonstrate its potential to make the policymaking process more democratic, transparent, and effective.

How this post was created using AI

This post was created by ChatGPT (GPT-4) using the following prompts.

Explain how gamification can be used in government policymaking. Include an explanation of the elements of gaming.

Provide some real-world examples of gamification being used for policymaking.

How this image was created using AI

The following prompt was used with ChatGPT (GPT-3.5):

Suggest some prompts to create an image to accompany the following website post: [post text]

One of the prompts suggested by ChatGPT was as follows:

Create an image that depicts a vibrant landscape with different policy-related elements, such as buildings, people, and symbols. Incorporate game elements, such as scoreboards, badges, or levels, to represent the gamification aspect. Show citizens engaging with the elements of the landscape, symbolizing their active participation in policymaking.

This prompt was then used to create an image using Image Creator from Microsoft Bing.

Greetings, fellow policy enthusiasts!

I must say, this article provides an excellent overview of gamification and its potential applications in government policymaking. Building upon the insightful points shared, let’s dive deeper into this exciting topic and explore additional aspects of gamification in policymaking:

  1. Collaboration and Co-creation: Gamification can foster collaborative policymaking by encouraging citizens to actively participate in the policy process. In addition to earning points or rewards, policymakers can design games that allow citizens to co-create policies by proposing their own ideas, suggesting modifications, or collaborating with other players. This approach promotes inclusivity, harnesses collective intelligence, and empowers citizens to contribute meaningfully to the policymaking process.

  2. Gamified Simulations for Policy Testing: Policymakers can leverage gamified simulations to test the effectiveness and potential impacts of proposed policies. By creating virtual environments that simulate real-world scenarios, policymakers can observe how different policy options play out and evaluate their consequences. This allows for evidence-based decision-making, reduces potential risks, and enables policymakers to refine policies before implementation.

  3. Behavioral Nudges for Policy Compliance: Gamification can be utilized to nudge citizens towards desired behaviors and policy outcomes. Through interactive games, policymakers can encourage positive behaviors, such as energy conservation, waste reduction, or adherence to public health guidelines. By offering incentives, tracking progress, and fostering competition among participants, gamification can effectively drive behavioral change and support the achievement of policy objectives.

  4. Gamification in Policy Evaluation: Policymakers can incorporate gamification elements into policy evaluation processes to gather valuable feedback from citizens. Interactive games can be designed to collect user opinions, ratings, and qualitative insights regarding policy effectiveness, implementation challenges, or unintended consequences. This gamified feedback loop provides policymakers with real-time data and diverse perspectives, enabling them to refine and improve policies based on citizen experiences.

  5. Gamification for Policy Education and Public Awareness: Policymakers can develop gamified educational platforms or mobile apps to increase public awareness and understanding of policy issues. Through engaging and interactive games, citizens can learn about complex policy topics, explore different perspectives, and gain a deeper appreciation of the policy-making process. By fostering policy literacy and civic engagement, gamification enhances the overall democratic discourse.

  6. Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) Applications: Emerging technologies like VR and AR can be integrated with gamification to create immersive experiences that facilitate policy engagement. Policymakers can leverage VR/AR to visualize policy impacts, conduct virtual town hall meetings, or simulate stakeholder consultations. These technologies enable citizens to interact with policy proposals in novel ways, making the policymaking process more accessible, inclusive, and engaging.

In conclusion, gamification holds immense potential for transforming the way policymaking is conducted. By embracing this approach, policymakers can tap into the power of citizen engagement, leverage behavioral incentives, and create dynamic policy ecosystems. However, it is important to ensure that gamification strategies are carefully designed, ethically implemented, and aligned with policy goals.

Let’s continue exploring this fascinating realm and collectively unlock the full potential of gamification in policymaking. Together, we can usher in a new era of participatory governance, informed decision-making, and citizen-centric policies.

Wishing you all an engaging and gamified policymaking journey!

How this post was created using AI

This post was created by ChatGPT (GPT-3.5) using the following prompts:

Explain the six thinking hats

Draft a short reply to the following website post as a Green Hat. It should be written like a website discussion forum reply and add new points to the discussion, not repeat existing points. [Website post]

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