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Map Board
First Prototype Game Pieces

Community Engagement Prototype


While conducting initial interviews for my early thesis research, I often observed a communication barrier within design language not only between myself and the residents I met, but also within the web of community members, elected officials, builders, and contractors involved in this project. I quickly realized there was an opportunity for improved communication through visualization and hands on aides.

With this in mind, I approached the first iteration with a goal of developing a tool to help begin meaningful conversations with community members that could also serve as a visual aid to express what they want their community to look, feel, and function like.

Guiding Questions:

How do we organize, desire, and see spatial relationships?

How do we build that into our communities?

Game Play

The first draft of this prototype was a truly blank board that could feel or function like any geographic/ landscape based game (Settlers of Catan, for example), however I found that this was too intimidating for players. I added some geographic context for our town, which included roads, topography, and natural features, that players could choose to either utilize or ignore.


The players were given a rudimentary set game pieces. These were in two categories: the larger zones and the smaller facilities. The zones included commercial, green space, and residential, of which there were low, medium, and high income. Each zone piece came in two different sizes, one as a quarter mile square and the other as a half mile square.The facility pieces were designed to be set on top of the zones, and included police, fire, library, school, community center, and industry sites.


I found that overall people built what they were familiar with, which more often than not tended to be in line with the problematic and outdated suburban typology that was structured around automobile depended infrastructures and inequality. These physical infrastructures went against the initial expressed desires of the players, who typically expressed a need for more sustainable, resilient, and walkable and walkable landscapes to better fit changing suburban needs. 

These early tests helped push me towards a new iteration in the hopes of bridge this disconnect between the expressed desires of players and the imaginary layouts they created. This led me to develop the card game as a way of encouraging learning, discussion, and collaboration.

Watch The Video To See Initial Tests, Or Click Here for More Documentation.

The video above documents some of the initial game play tests. Skip to 3:15 for findings. 

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