Gamified Participation

Challenging the current participation methods in urban development with Minecraft

Aalborg University, Urban Design, Master Thesis, 2019
By August Gade Johansen, Shapescape, and Camilla Bech Pedersen, Urban Planner


This thesis investigates the effects of utilising gamification and serious games as participatory tools in the urban planning process. Typically participation today is limited to public hearings and light means of eParticipation, often in the form of social media debates or web-based surveys or questionnaires. Public hearings are an old concept by now, and while functional for some citizens, much of the following material points toward it being ineffective at garnering the interest of young families and those even younger. Generation Y, accustomed to doing things in their own time, and very well acquainted with navigating virtual worlds, may well benefit more and be more inclined to participate through digital media; maybe even from the comforts of their own home.

Further, virtual tools may work to increase the spatial understanding of a development in those attending, in particular, interactive virtual tools, which is the very core of digital games. This thesis, therefore, utilises the process behind the development of Budolfi Square in Aalborg to compare the conventional method of citizen involvement with a gamified version. For this purpose, Minecraft is used as an example, allowing 17 interviewees to experience the planned buildings of Budolfi through Minecraft, and express how immersing themselves into the game affects their understanding of the site.

Findings have been condensed into a folder, attached to this thesis, strongly recommending further testing and usage of new methods in real participation settings; both to get a better understanding of the problems and advantages this carry, but just as important to not fall behind the tide of gamification washing over the world, but instead ride it.

The Minecraft model for the thesis was supplied by Shapescape.

Contact details:
August Gade Johansen, phone: +45 23 64 14 09, email:
Camilla Bech Pedersen, phone: +45 23 41 17 24, email: