Civic City was developed as part of Andrew Reid's Honours project on the BA (Hons) Game Design and Production Management course at Abertay University. The game was inspired by the political movement surrounding the Scottish Referendum on Independence (2014). Scotland experienced a high mobilisation of voters for the referendum, leading to a turnout of 84.5%. This large percentage of voters was abnormal in comparison to previous elections held within the United Kingdom, which has not risen above 80% since 1951. Moreover, General Elections within the United Kingdom has fluctuated within 50-65% since 2001.
Previous research has highlighted that a large attribution of low voter turnouts is a result of disenfranchisement with politics among younger voters. As a result, this research proposed the use of digital technologies in order to invite, inspire, and engage voters (predominantly, but not exclusively, the younger demographic) within the political environment. This research suggested the use of a game environment due to its (arguably) high value in stimulating motivation and transference of attitudes between the digital environment and real-world scenarios.
Civic City places players in a world where they must address political scenarios. The scenarios are presented by characters representing an individual related to the issue: for example, a school child explains the topic of education, and a first-time buyer represents housing policy. On reading a short narrative within each area, the player is presented with a selection of options to address the situation. These options were drawn from the manifestos of four political parties from the UK General Election 2015 and represent the options provided by Socialist, Conservative, Liberal, and Social Environmentalist parties respectively. The association of the policy to the corresponding party is removed: this was to encourage players to consider the policies rather than the parties (and associated politicians) when making their own judgments. A fifth option, which acts as an abstention to the issue, is also available.
Once the player has selected an option, the area colour is changed. These colours represent the associated political party to the player's chosen policy. By inputting their own judgments and values upon each issue presented in the game, it is intended that the player would become more aware of where their beliefs may lie within the spectrum of politics offered to them by real-world party manifestos.
A more full description of the game can be seen here (pages 32-33, 59-62).
Civic City is undergoing maintenance. A download of the build is coming soon. Please refer to the video link above.
Reid, A. J. (2015). Designing video games to encourage political participation in the United Kingdom. [Dissertation]. Abertay University.
Reid, A. J. (2015). Playful Politics: Developing a Framework for Designing Video Games for Political Participation in the United Kingdom. Press Start Journal, 2(2): p57-74.
Coverage: Civic policy the aim of the game for developer (Scotland on Sunday, 2015)