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Stories from the world of Urban Play



I’m Marian! I live in Groningen (the Netherlands). I consider myself a ‘social player’. I work in the field of democracy, participation and on various social issues (social benefits, poverty, quality of life in rural and urban areas etc.). I always try to incorporate play in my work, whenever possible, but find it sometimes hard to do. Especially when you don’t have co-workers that do not really trust in play, so to say.
I’ve made a lot of mistakes. Failed time and time again. But I’m extremely proud of one big project I’ve done, where 800 citizens of Groningen came together to talk about the future of their city. After a year we contacted some of the participants and asked them what they remember most, or what they gained out of that day, and some of them said: I’ve made friends that day. I did not expect that, but that still gives me goosebumps.

That’s what I believe play can do. Play can turn strangers into friends. To me, that’s pure magic.

Love to be part of this community!


Hello everyone! This is Vicky from Greece, currently living and studying in the beautiful and almost always sunny Barcelona… I got my diploma in Architecture almost 2 years ago and in about one month I will be done with my master also. It is my ambition to become an architect working on interdisciplinary collaborative experimental processes, aimed at the field of social urban design.

Architecture has always –somehow- been a natural choice for me, yet what really interests me is –to quote Gandhi- how I could be part of the change that I want to see in the world. For that reason, there was always something bothering me while I was passing term after term all the design projects at Architecture School. Finally, I knew. I needed something more than a well-designed building project to be satisfied. I cared more about the impact of what an architect could do. For that reason I decided to examine this subject a little deeper and both my research thesis and dissertation involve this subject.

I have noticed that in the field of Architecture there are many factors of influence. Knowledge from other disciplines, as well as from other cultures, is what makes this field so intricate, but all the more interesting. Although my current cv satisfies my pursuits to some extend, my inquiring spirit can never stop getting challenged by new adventures. Thus, for the gap year between my graduation and my master, I searched for ways to make a scientific generalist out of me. I chose to enroll in some online courses with contents around politics, diplomacy, sociology, humanitarianism etc in order to gain transdisciplinary “literacy”. Moreover, over the past years I have been attending workshops, lectures and conventions in furtherance of learning more things over the subjects that concern me, working on relevant projects and -of course- meeting people that have the same interests as me and interchanging experiences and knowledge.

I am considered to be a highly motivated, diligent, well-organized, unconventional and vastly determined individual; I am certain to push through with the dedication I have always worked with to accomplish my goals. I do not know if I have the “typical” qualifications needed but I know that my passion and will is strong enough to overcome any unsuitability. I am characterized as an outgoing person with team-working and leadership qualities, social and people skills.

My master’s personal project is related to trust; I am interested to see how trust can be enhanced by simple games in public spaces, by doing “random” things that shake up our routine and comfort zone. If you are interested to see more, you can check my website:

Very pleased to meet all of you and looking forward to reading a lot interesting stories :slight_smile:


Thanks so much! It was a lot of fun to work on.


Konnichiwa y’all, I’m Ryuta, 25 years old, based in Tokyo, Japan.

I currently work in a Japanese internet company as a VR engineer since last year.
I mainly developed a prototype of VR headset for kids under 7 years old in 3 months, using 3D modelling tools and 3D printer.
I also played around with Unity, made a gun attachment of a VR controller, participated several Hackathons as game designer in the past year, including MIT Media Lab Berlin

At the same time, I’m a master student of Architectural design. I’m in my last semester now and writing my thesis on “Applying the video game design process to urban design in order to make a user-friendly urban environment”
Here is my portfolio from my undergraduate time

You might be wondering (or in this community maybe not) “Why from Architecture to VR?”. The reasons are following;

  1. During my bachelor time, I realised that architecture is not just about making neat-looking buildings but about creating spaces using architectural thinking, and VR creates virtual space. And I’m really into pushing the boundary of what architecture could be.

  2. While I was doing an exchange year in Berlin, I made a small video game about the city, then realised video game’s potential to both directly and indirectly affect urban space.

  3. There needs to be someone who can combine the virtual world and the physical world more seamlessly.

    • You know, in the future we could do something more surprising than Pokemon walking around the corner on your screen.
  4. I’d like to “gamify” physical urban space and make it as fun as the “Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild”.

    • Coming from a “boring” suburban city of Tokyo where physical spaces are limited, video games saved my childhood. Now I’d like to create video game like experience in the physical urban space.
    • (I’m not a big fan of stereotypes or prejudice, but video game for Japanese people is what Football is for Brazilian people.)

Well, that’s about it for now, I’m really looking forward to seeing you all!!


Hi all in the Urban Play group,

I thought i’d drop in to say hi.

I’m Alex and i’ve been a member of the Edgeryders community (behind the nomadic school) since 2014/15. I’ve helped organise and run some Edgeryders events as well as doing work around future making, and storytelling for them.

In my ‘day job’ i am the lead producer for a small arts venue in my hometown of Bedford in the UK. We run a mixed arts programme, including theatre and film. In 2020 we will be undertaking a 2 year project around creating artistic work at the intersection of theatre and games. This will include working with established professionals and commissioning brand new work from artists interested in exploring this exciting boundary.
We are also developing a strand of the programme around large scale public outdoor games/theatre activities, and i’d love to work with the Trust in Play group to develop my own skills in this area.
I’ve been a producer and arts manager since leaving Drama School in 2009, and have extensive experience of delivering events, marketing, production support, technical expertise and long term strategic development. All of these across a variety of spaces including ‘place based’, festivals, international and site specific locations.

I live and work mostly in the UK, but i love to travel, which means i spend a lot of time wandering the streets of new, unknown cities and finding interesting ways of exploring them.
I’m a board gamer, computer gamer and run RPG sessions for adults and young people in my (limited) spare time.
Come say hi, i’d love to hear more from you.

@natalia_skoczylas, @matteo_uguzzoni :wave:


Hello fellows,

I am Lena, currently based in Munich, all itchy to sum up and dive into new adventures and excitements all over the place this summer - and this is my upcoming project I would love you to join:

Start of the conception is in the second half of 2019, start of the development of the game is in 2020. The development of the game is another game and is being played multidimensional. The game’s theoretical approach will be tested within a broad range of participants. The program includes workshops, events, public exchange, and interdisciplinary workflows. The game Reloaded should be fed by the culture the game exists in:

It is interdisciplinary (for welfare, education, public, academic, cultural, open institutions)

It is for all ages (children, youngster, adults)

It includes all backgrounds (all types of education, all kind of identities)

It is digital-analog. Both worlds great one.

It is a game made by gaming and the game design process is gaming as well.

Play to participate in the community, play to know what it means to be part of - play your type of engagement. Play to become a designer of the game’s landscape, rules, community and culture. Play, but be aware of the game’s community, because the community values your actions and pays you the bills. Create a spectacular action, stand out of the group, create something not seen before, use the knowledge of the group, take things we already know and combine them newly, please, pamper, distract, explode, do this in a creative way, be smart, funny, awkward, grumpy, welcoming, or quiet. Your creation is the fulfilling of your task, your statement - your designed part of the game. Achieve a goal, get all attention for your move and win the prize you are meant for. These interactions, these games within the game are small adventures, micro adventures - short enough to be played whenever, wherever, and long enough for a great bundle of joy. It is easy to start, as you are able to choose your preferred, loved, and hated game tools, your style, your way of creativity, create on- and offline, create as you or another. Be a digital-analog player of the multidimensional game.

Play whatever knowledge, background, interest you have, play whatever you like to say, to show, to hide, to be, or are. Take your pace, live your life, live the game, jump in, play, jump out, wait, stumble, go, online, offline, be public, be private, always there - even when not.

Play, because if you play you exist in the game.

For the theoretical approach the network of the Institute for Design Science e.V., Munich will be available and the Haus des Spiels, Nuremberg will offer their space, archive, knowledge, and network for game development / game design for the practical workshops, events,… for monthly events in 2020 (- further destinations in the Netherlands, Spain and Germany are in consideration:)

For the game, I would be very happy to have you all and your network on board, as I need for sure experts there and playful support - it would be great to expand the circle.

Happy to hear from you all.

With the best,



Congrats on “Escape the Smart City”! It is so playful and interesting, beside being super important topic. Looking forward to follow more on this


Hi everybody, my name’s Bronwin and I want to play. I am excited to be involved in this collaboration with other creative people around Europe to create something out of the urban. Being part of a team of urban play nomads sounds ideal to me. I’m in! In the past I’ve made TV documentaries and professional transmedia projects - which include audio features and onlne journalism reports, but I’m keen to do more collaborative and practical play projects now. I have a PhD in playful, humanist design where I explored the application of dramatic models like theatre games and process drama within digital environments - they work! (well, in theory…I feel like I’ve only just scratched the surface of the practical. My course was theoretical, not practical and I am itching to bring more play to the lives of real people) I am very inspired about immersive, interactive design events and want to do more. On top of my PhD I have designed a prototype for a gamified essay writing helper application, as well as hypthetical applications for data-sharing technologies in the digital design community…so you see, there’s more to create, which is why I am here.

I don’t know about everybody else but as we sit here perched on the precipice of environmental disaster and I ponder David Attenborough’s recent warning that realistically, we only have 10 years to turn things around - it inspires me to pursue urban-nature connectivity themes…what can play do? I hope it can do a lot. What do you think? Would anybody else like to see how play can help people living in urban environments reconnect with nature and better cope with the changes to come? (So… I don’t need to impose this idea on other people, connecting with each other is just as important…but I am very passionate about nature reconnection right now so can’t help but ask and test the waters!) My play design skill set is complimented by my video and audio production skills, web development/design, writing and usability testing skills (I have previously conducted social network analysis and experience sampling research surveys).

I think usability is about more than engagement, it’s also about agency, or the power to participate at different levels, so user experience is a topic that opens up a lot of doors.

Speaking of opening doors here’s a story about festival touchpoints - last year I was on the organising committee of the NEoN Digital Arts Festival in Dundee, Scotland. For the first time the festival was offered a base in the 2nd floor of a mostly abandoned shopping centre. In a back, crumpled corner of the city this centre was experience the affects of hard times and online shopping - there were lots of empty shops! So it was a win/win situation to set up galleries, workshops and installations for the duration of the Festival. This ended up being a really good move for NEoN as lots of non-traditional festival goers passed through this shopping centre and many of them wandered curiously into the exhibits, asking what was going on. The most popular installation of all was a virtual reality ride. Passers-by were invited to sit on swings set up inside the centre with a VR helmet on their head and experience a VR thrill ride, either moving up, or forwards, or all around EXTREMELY FAST in an abstract, digital art 3D environment. Either way it was a hugely accessible and popular installation. I think this reinforces the point made in the previous podcast as well, that familiar titles and experiences (like swings and show rides) are like open doors.

The trick is to shake them up a bit, of course…like the VR on that ride…that was also inside a shopping centre, not in a park.

I like working with other people, so …I’ll keep my fingers crossed and hope to see you in Athens. I am not a developer, but I really want to make games. I want to make the city more playful, and more sustainable together through play. All the best, Bronwin


Hi Alex, your work sounds fun, particularly as you work to cross boundaries and create new places for play. I’ll keep the 2020 theatre/games initiative in mind!


Hi Ryuta, I think that there are so many natural links between architecture and gaming. A friend of mine wrote a PhD on the architecture of virtual space, it was fascinating. Your day job sounds like a lot of fun as well. How was your VR headset modified for children?

@v7cky Hi Vicky, I love the opening graphic on your website (I am into sci-fi and spec fiction, so often think of the future). Your work with Fab Academy and Design Studio look rewarding - you’ve done well documenting all that on your site.

@omarieclaire - what a powerhouse! Your work is wyrd and wonderful, love it (particularly the smell filled balloons). So…you’re no relation to Mary then I take it, do you get that all the time when you’re doing keynotes?

@LindeGa Hi Gabi, good to discover a League of Creative Interventionists…

@BagelandBalloon Good luck with Bloomingludus. It must have been a lot of work starting your own company, well done. I am also keen on sustainability and nature themes/as well as the intersection of drama and games, so really enjoyed exploring your work.

@mitrzikl Hi Milena, you sound like you’re on a creative journey. Your training in architecture must really be helpful and inform your place-making theatre work. There’s so much that can be done with heritage environments and remaking spaces.

@kategorman Hi Kate…I’m starting to feel a bit overwhelmed by all the talented people in this community. I love site-special audio walks and would love to do more of that…so intrigued by the potential connections with fabric installations…I looked at the scores for Moonwalk…and listened to some of the audio (like an audio book). The scores are intriguing and suggest a possible interface to a multi-modal translation of each piece on a website…either as a forum of documentation, or more active repurposing of the piece in an immersive VR environment. Lots of potential there.

@LeaLeroy Hi Lea I wish I could draw, let alone illustrate. I also wish I had an urban games club at my University.

@tomo_kihara - street debating sounds fun and the way you’ve visualised that makes it really accessible - did you get into any arguments with that one? I was in Amsterdam recently so I’m sorry I missed that.

@MarianvV - 800 citizens showing up to a talk about the future is huge. Indeed, play can turn strangers into friends.

Good to make @chat with all you creative peeps. Your work inspires. I think I may have used up all my messaging permissions on this forum for now, so this is the last you will hear from me for a while I expect, but I hope to meet you again.

All the best,
p.s. If I missed anybody out it was an oversight (I have since realised that a lot of people I had also said hello to e.g. Charis and Will were missed out - sorry, I had read your stuff and was very impressed and left comments, but somehow they got wiped anyhow - hola - I’ll check in again and look forward to hearing more about what you’re all up to.


Hello everyone!

As my nickname suggests, my name is Vesy! I am originally from Bulgaria but lived in beautiful Australia for 10 years. Now that I am back “home”, I am slowly discovering different opportunities in the Arts/Cultural Management fields.

My fascination with games began at a very young age. In my teenage years, I used to play video games professionally. Looking back, I recognise that playing games has developed my critical thinking and leadership skills which is great.

My first introduction to urban games was during one of the amazing MitOst festivals. I attended a workshop, which allowed for participants to create their own exploratory urban game with hands-on materials. Needless to say - it was amazing!

Currently, I run a small NGO in Bulgaria (Meeting Points) which attempts to create opportunities for human interaction between people through arts and culture. We try to weave in different games in a lot of our projects and currently looking at creating a standalone urban game that gets people to interact with the environment around them in a playful way and not just whine about how broken and ugly things are :slight_smile:

I am really interested in exploring the role of digital media in such experiences and also bringing more disadvantaged communities into the process of game creation. I find that while urban games don’t discriminate, they rarely capitalise on the knowledge of different minorities and so my interests also lay in exploring the nexus between playfulness and social change.

I am super excited about learning from and with others as well as sharing my own experience in socially engaged art and cultural practices.



Hello everyone! Greetings to all people here and all the great stories emerging!
I’m Isabella, from Trikala, Greece with a background in architecture and a long interest in urban games and play in general.

I am interested in play in many ways, from the design of urban space for playful activities to the teaching of architecture through play. I may say that it all started when I first tried to play but this would make a very very long story. So my story begins while I was an architecture student and decided to incorporate play in my thesis. The project was about reinstalling the game within the city, with the aim of becoming a "break" in the urban environment. The city streets make up most of the public space and on the belief that they should not be just for cars, the project invades the city-streets to create free play-scapes. So this is where the story of urban games begins for me. Then I tried to learn more about it and actually create urban games with and without the use of ICT.

It is so nice to find such a creative community. I am based in a relatively medium-small city and internet communities can offer quite a lot to me as an urban game developer!


connecting nature and urban dwellers using game as tool is great and more than reasonable idea, in my opinion. hope this would develop more. best, miljena



I am Kavita Gonsalves. I am a PhD candidate with the Urban Informatics Research Group at the QUT Design Lab, Brisbane. My research focuses on placemaking by marginalised groups through the use of information and communication technology. My key research areas are citymaking and placemaking through activism, urban play, storytelling and digital placemaking. My interest in the power of play began with the development of a urban treasure hunt for a “goodbye” party: it took us all over the city, eating treats, playing silly quizzes and relaying memories and stories that formed parts of our friendships. I have, also, been involved in the development of a board game based on a funconference, which was inspired by Monopoly and Cards Against Humanity. With games, I am keen on the qualities of subversion, serendipity and serious fun.

With a background in architecture and sustainable design, I have worked in multi-disciplinary projects such as workplace design, design research, graphic design, architecture, urban design and design strategy. I have a Bachelor of Architecture from Manipal Institute of Technology and a Master of Architecture from Mackintosh School of Architecture, Glasgow School of Art. I co-founded street-based guerrilla movements such as Multicoloured Dreamz (Helsinki, Finland) and the Bake Collective (Bombay & Bangalore, India) and was a SI Young Connector of the Future 2014 Fellow.


Hi all,
I am a board game designer based in Berlin … my projects are mostly inside …
Inside the house. Inside a box. Around a table. In the room. But sometimes outside as welI. I do workshops on how to design games with every day material as well. Ansd I like to take a look in other worlds, that are about games and gaming.
And, well, this is the first time, I recognize this world :slight_smile:
But I would like to be a part of, I am curious! Greetings, Anja


Hey @Kavita, what an interesting story! I wonder what happened to the project once you left - did they carry on with your design proposal? I find it extremely bizarre to see how an organization would like to have you make a project of a space without a sort of consultation and participatory process already at the competition stage, and then win the money and have you left. There’s something really wrong with the sequence of things in this story :slight_smile: I guess the competition is also flawed here, as obviously in a limited time you can only provide with a certain amount of inclusion in the process - do you feel like the funders were aware that awarding you would only kick start a whole process of participatory design that might change things dramatically? Or they would expect you to realise the space the way you presented it first?

Also interesting to see whom do you call a client here! Usually they’d be called stakeholders, but in this case, you considered the local community your client, rather than… well, the donor maybe?

Sorry if these are obvious things, but as a non-architect, but a lover of the subject, I’d be happy to learn a little bit more about the inner workings of the profession.


Hi! are you interested also in urban places that are heavily controlled, or hostile to other use except planed, like disrupting them with play ? best, miljena


hey @omarieclaire - you made me curious here! Can I ask you a question about what made the game such a harsh experience to you? I have some ideas, working with people on complex issues can indeed burn a lot of oil - but I’m very much interested in this particular story and how did you, you know, kept on going for the duration of the project?

Very nice meeting you and welcome to the club!


ha, hey @tomo_kihara, looks like we have some friends in common - do you know Miha Tursic? :slight_smile: I bet you do :))

I am really curious about the debating game - does it actually work as a money-making tool for homeless people? How many of them do it, and how is it in their experience? I like the idea but I also find it very challenging to imagine to work in real life - but if it does, it probably has a lot of value, especially by establishing interaction between homeless people, mostly overlooked. It would be wonderful to have it working in Berlin as well. If you can write a brief description and some of your insights, I’d be very grateful!
welcome to the TIP :slight_smile:


Hi Everyone!

This is Pelin,
I’m writing from Izmir, Turkey. I studied bachelor of architecture in Izmir, Turkey. During my study, i took place in several EU projects as a participant and a facilitator. I attended various architecture and design workshops as well. After my bachelor, in order to widen my horizon, i decided to move to Istanbul and study further in a different discipline. I got accepted to master of industrial product design in Istanbul Technical University. Meanwhile to my master, i worked in several phases of multiple projects in different architecture and design offices. In these projects i gained experience where i realized potential of my social and organizational skills: building survey, interior design, construction, production, exhibition design, event design, photography and video editing. I went to TU Delft as an exchange research student for 7 months. After i returned back to Turkey, i moved to Izmir to work for Izmir Tarih Project commissioned by Metropolitan Municipality of Izmir. Since 2015, i work for Izmir Tarih(History) Project’s Design Workshop which is a department of Izmir Metropolitan Municipality under the project is called Izmir Tarih Project. I collaborate with urban planners, graphic designers, architects, archeologists, sociologists, industrial product designers, landscape designers, and engineers. Our goal is to unearth the historical potential of the area. We organize events in order to gather locals, academicians, students and other professionals with local administrators and draw their attention. We work with mostly women and children who live in the neighborhood and create projects to improve their socio-economical status for creating an impact on them to feel belonging to the place they live in. We also strive to create social interactions amongst people with different backgrounds and restore the historical image of the area by creating various scaled projects. So far, i’ve gained a lot of knowledge related to my previous working experiences from design to production and in every one of them, i used my skills in communication that i still improve. Nowadays, i’m in the phase of changing my department and will hopefully start working in FabLab of the municipality. Apart from work, i take various roles in different NGOS; giving workshops & speeches and organize events personally related to art and cultural scene of Izmir. I’m supporting HEY! Imaginable Guidelines game for its development which is an urban city game.

As a social person, i’m interested in many things which cultivates me in professional and personal life. I have skills in fields of design, urban design, architecture and i am good at socializing, communicating, facilitating, idea generating, networking, organizing.

In my daily life, i like cooking experimental, dancing lindy hop, photographing moments, improvising situations, creating games, organizing events and traveling to people learn their stories and discover new cultures. I am an easy going person and great both in groups and individualistically. I love playing games and encourage everyone around me to strength their connections with their inner children. Adding to that, i took creative drama lessons, and i’m still taking lessons on painting, dancing, writing and Tai Chi in order to engage my body with mind and soul. Also, I am practicing various tools and materials in communication including games to build mutual trust in every group I am involved.

I’m very excited that i will get to know you.