Serious Fun for a Desired City
Marcela Guerrero Casas
4 September 2014

From designing a game that highlights the vulnerability of city dwellers to climate change to skating around the city, the ‘Serious Fun’ project has continued to engage practitioners, policy makers and academics in finding ways to address urban challenges through play.

Between 26 and 29 August, four groups of experts in the areas of climate change, food, mobility and education convened at UCT and at the new Skate Park in Gardens to explore ways of engaging the larger public at the upcoming City Desired Exhibition.

As part of the exhibition, “Serious Fun”will explore the assumption that gaming and play can be means to develop alternative visions and uses of city spaces by experimenting at the intersection of playful participation, creative practice and serious urban issues. It will incorporate five thematic engagements through which these experiments will occur.

Metropoly Cape Town
The ACC in collaboration with participants from the Department of Spatial and Urban Design (City of Cape Town), CORC, PDG development consulting, Game Changers and a range of academics from UCT have been re-purposing Monopoly for Cape Town. The purpose of the new version is to critique cumulative advantage and disadvantage in the property market. The game has been renovated to fit the reality in Cape Town. Players start with differential economic positions, and the chance cards have been adapted to suit a range of South African realities. Metropoly: Cape Town will be played with high school learners, city officials, and exhibition audiences.

Playground: playful participatory planning
The ACC and dala are collaborating with education initiatives to develop a playful participatory planning session with children from different backgrounds in Cape Town. Tapping into an existing design experiment the ACC has been conducting as part of the Density Syndicate, the children will design plans for a site in Cape Town that includes the Two Rivers Urban Park and Athlone Power Station. The primary activity will be a workshop that uses art, gaming and planning design activities that will ultimately be built in Lego.

Food for thought
The ACC and dala are collaborating with other local organisations to develop a game / participatory public performance around food security in Cape Town. The purpose of the game is to engage different constituencies in a game that unpacks the food system in Cape Town. Players are expected to navigate a series of food security issues that are typical in South Africa. A series of actors will fill the roles of different food retailers, such as a street trader, farmer, and supermarket owner, and will act as facilitators of the game. The game / public performance will take place in Company Gardens as a backdrop to the history of food systems in Cape Town.

Deviant Wheels
The ACC and dala are collaborating with the National Skate Coalition and the City of Cape Town’s task team on skating in the city to develop a project that engages alternative ways of knowing and traversing the city. Skating in itself plays upon the city fabric, and this project will involve researching and mapping skating as a form of knowledge production about the city. The purpose of the project is to find interactive / affective ways of representing and reflecting on public space bylaws in Cape Town.

Climate for Change
The ACC and dala are collaborating with others to develop a game that engages climate change decisions in Cape Town. Using flooding and water security as the starting point, the game will involve making a series of decisions about urban development based on climate change concerns. Much like ‘choose your own adventure’ books, the way the game is navigated will determine a particular kind of urban outcome (e.g. concrete jungle vs. forest city). A digital artist will work with a climate change specialist to develop the game interaction.

Serious Fun: Metropoly: Cape Town: Brainstorming Session
doung Jahangeer on Serious Fun