The following projects are examples from my larger body of creative work. Each represents a creative digital or analog production wherein I had a major influence on the design. I have selected them here for easy access, but I encourage you to browse through the range of projects represented on the Engagement Lab site. Most Engagement Lab projects are created by teams of visual designers, software developers and project managers, but as the principal investigator, I have ultimate creative and intellectual control.
Civic Seed (2015)
Civic Seed is on online multi-player RGP to prepare college students for community service work that is now an integral part of many undergraduates’ experiences.
Many incoming university students are eager to get involved with the school’s partner communities and create positive change. However, to most, the people, challenges, and histories of these communities are unknown, and under-trained volunteers can even do more harm than good.
For local organizations, it's difficult to know which students have the necessary knowledge and skills to collaborate effectively and whose personal goals align with the goals of the organization and the community. Civic Seed is designed in cooperation with Tufts University's Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service, which promotes a culture of active citizenship for Tufts students throughout the university and in their communities.
Community Planit (2011-present)
Community PlanIt is an online game platform that fosters deliberation and civic participation in planning processes to engage as wide and diverse a group of stakeholders as possible. Community PlanIt not only facilitates trust-building between citizens and organizations, but is itself a powerful data collection tool that allows users to meaningfully analyze community input and truly engage the public in the planning process.
Within a series of time-limited missions, players compete with each other to earn influence in their community to fund local projects. At the same time, they learn about key issues related to the topic of the engagement process, connect with each other, and suggest solutions to problems. Each game culminates in a face-to-face community event, where players meet with each other and discuss the results of the process and next steps with curators of the game and other decision makers.
Community PlanIt aims to augment existing offline engagement efforts by stepping up where face-to-face meetings often fall flat. All too often planning meetings are beset by a lack of diversity, learning, and trust and a surplus of one-issue activists, incivility, and misunderstandings. Community PlanIt provides a framing that allows cities and organizations to guide constituents through the narrative of the planning process, creating opportunities along the way for learning, civil conversation, and meaningful input.
Risk Horizon (2015)
Risk Horizon is a real-time strategy game designed in partnership with the World Bank as part of a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) that took place in the summer of 2014. Players use the risk management tools of knowledge, protection, and insurance to guide the development of an alien world and survive increasingly powerful comet strikes.
The global preconception of Risk Management is that it is a cost that is not always affordable, especially in developing countries. The World Bank's Report on Risk Management and the learning module built around it reframes risk management as a tool for healthy development.
Risk Horizon was played during the MOOC's second week, which covered the most important tenets of risk management. The game's design goals were to reinforce these concepts and let users understand them in an experiential way while remaining accessible to a wide audience with a variety of learning styles. Players responded to questions about the game with qualitative essay-style answers, and were required to play at least three of the game's six levels to receive full credit for the MOOC.
@Stake is a role-playing game that fosters democracy, empathy, and creative problem solving for civic issues. Planning issues often involve conflicting interests coupled with deep resentments and community divides. Building a new highway, for example, is seldom only a question of the highway's design, but the destiny of the land, the community, and individual residents.
We were amazed at the success of @Stake in driving productive conversation at our UNDP workshop, and took it back to the Lab for further development. Since then, it's been used at many different contexts such as The Jewish Federation, youth ambassador programs for inner city planning institutions in Boston, and the United Nations in New York. Numerous expansions and customization packs have made the game robust enough to aid in processes of all types nationally and across the world. A digital mobile version of the game was released in 2017.