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Stories from the world of Urban Play


Ηello all!

I am Alexandra and I am an Urban Planner. I live in Athens and I am fond of strolling around the city and discovering new corners and new aspects of my town.

Urban games are closely related to my academic background and I keep myself informed on urban games by reading up on relevant bibliography and write – ups on «playful cities».

Part of my job includes drawing up maps of the town. One of my recent projects was related to designing maps for the setting up of the Architectural Competition of Athens. It is my strong belief that these skills along with other ideas that I have could greatly contribute to crafting games for a playful city with the other members of the team.


Hi there,
I am Nikhil, from Bangalore, a city in the South of India.
It’s a pleasure to find a community like this, but without digressing, let me introduce myself

I am an urban practitioner, currently working around different layers of urbanization. My interest area is lake/water. I did my urban fellowship from Indian Institute for Human Settlement, two years back. It is aimed at understanding urban fabrics from perspectives of policy, data, identity, transport, water, energy, law, planning, etc

One fine evening, 3 of us, working together on emotional aspect of senior citizens in an area, were discussing our developments with our mentor. Like always we were a bit clueless about the form and conclusion of the research. Prof simply said, “why don’t you make a game?” My brain clicked and I zoned out thinking of the game. And thus evolved the first game - Snake, Ladder & Butterfly. After that we went on making games around transport, lakes, identity, disability, entrepreneurship, energy, etc for all our assignments. It came to a point where prof. started asking us to make games for their assignments.

The idea is bring about conversation, a healthy dialogue, around urban fabrics. I currently organize a lot of events around board games, trying to slip urban games into people consciousness. My favourite game is A DAY IN THE LIFE OF, based on the imagination of disability as an identity, that we developed.
FB page -


my name is Sofia, I’m from Bologna, Italy.
I have a background in performing arts but in the last years I started working as a game designer and game critic. I’m particularly interested in narrative games and unconventional art games, and passionate about the possibilities of using video games to promote cultural heritage. Right now I’m working as writer/designer for the videogame “A Painter’s Tale”, set in the old village of Curon Venosta, in Italy, that was submerged in 1950 by an artificial lake.

I like to explore the urban and nature spaces in playful and imaginative ways, to get lost in every city I visit (and in my own hometown, even if it’s a bit more challenging), to meet new people and hear their stories.


Good morning, playful souls.

I am Anne-Lorraine, writing to you from sunny Berlin. I find joy in the color red, watching people and sunsets, and making tiny books with friends. I have a background in organizational psychology and a day job writing for a creative consultancy where I tempt my colleagues into impromptu Haiku writing.

In play, I full-body understood this: rules are written and can be rewritten, even if just for now and here—even those of everyday routines and old stories of the good life. In play, I can explore what I care about and practice agency. These new ways to respond to the world and express what I value stick with me when I leave the magic circle.

Because games can teach agency I am curious about whether and how they work in norm-heavy environments—at work, in public spaces, on first dates. If norms and rules keep a context steady and people are invested in the status quo, then games are a revolutionary threat.

That is why I wrote my MSc thesis on games and play in organizations. The conclusion: often, games in organizations have little long-term effect or feel unsafe. I came up with eight suggestions on how to walk this line. Ping me if you want more on this.

Since 2016, I translate what I encounter of the world into games. With changing constellations of lovely people, I’ve made social and site-specific games ranging from 2-60 players, 5 minutes - 3 days, weeks in preparation and improvised on the spot. Some of them are about noticing when we are present with each other, playing with the spaces that shape how we act and giving each other exceptional compliments.

My favorite game was a 60-minute game-tour for three audiences of twenty in a stunning building next to Berlin’s Brandenburger Tor. Facility management was proud and protective of the place—understandably. The game we wrote invited the audience to play with the seemingly solid structures that scaffold our lives. I craved for them to feel free to wrestle with this environment while honoring the desire of the Keepers of Order to find the place in shiny glory afterward. One player built a pyramid of glasses and kept pouring fizzy water over them. It dripped over the table, the cloth, onto the ground. A steady flow. That moment of watching this grown-up all immersed in pouring in unusual places, free of the worry of someone telling him off, was damn sweet.

Now, I want to move this practice of game-making into the center of my days. I want to make games that unforeseen players join as they pass by, games that courageously take place in the neighborhoods and public spaces we share. Games that interweave the fantastic stories we tell ourselves about the places we inhabit. That invite unusual acts, unusual moods to areas we pass through assuming we need to show up in certain ways and hide all else we are.

Which is why Trust in Play intrigues me so much—I want to commit time and focus on growing this practice. And it is why reading through your introductions made my cheeks tingle: I want to be with people who care about games, whose heads are full of stories and ideas, who can do stuff I cannot and whom I can learn from and build with. With you, I want to create together what escapes us alone.

With hugs and sunshine,



Hello playful people!

I’m Olina Terzi, an Architect and Researcher hoping to join the Amsterdam branch of this wonderful initiative. My motivation to join the School lies in my fascination for gaming, community participation and any kind of urban interaction - all fields that I have experimented with and combined in my work in different ways and scales.

Examples of my past work include designing a digital multiplayer urban game for participatory city-making by fighting real-time for urban space; a playful urban installation raising awareness on the circular economy as part of the ‘Games for Cities Training School’ in Amsterdam; an interactive installation for Oerol Festival in Terschelling, NL, designed to move along rural fields as responses to a live survey of visitors change; a couple of participatory exhibitions raising awareness on rapid urbanisation and climate change for MoMA in New York and the Venice Biennale in Italy; to gamified workshops for community engagement that collected public input for the City of Hoboken in New Jersey. I’ve also enjoyed in my work to explore and design rules in a few occasions, such as papers I wrote investigating rules for cities in my home country, Greece or my MSc thesis at TUDelft that proposed a rule-based architectural system for future inhabitation to accommodate different user needs over time.

Reading all your posts is already very inspiring and stimulating and I hope to be able to get to know you either in Amsterdam or in Athens in October!!

Yours playfully,


Hi there,

I am Chiara! It’s so amazing to read your inspiring stories and I hope to join the trainee program in Amsterdam, as I’d love to learn more from you all!

I am a graduate Global Innovation Designer from Royal College of Art and Imperial College of London, with a background in service and strategy design. I designed my first serious game almost by chance during my undergrad in Industrial Design in Eindhoven. It was called 2020game and it was a multi-player simulation game to help players strategise towards the green energy achievement that the Netherlands promised in the 2015 Paris agreement. Ever since… I loved to design games, because it enables people to reflect, strategise and and put themselves in someone’s else shoes. I designed participatory democracy playful toolkits and participatory budgeting games both in UK and the US and a Sustainable Development Goals social game in Japan.

What I love the most about creating social and urban innovation games is co-creating with the community: I really enjoy to see the excitement of the players the games are designed for, when they see that their input has been taken into account in the creation of the game itself. I believe it creates a unique sense of ownership and makes the learning goal of the game even more sticky :slight_smile:

I really hope to connect with you all,
speak soon!


Dear playful humans,

My name is Lily, another playful human writing you from Rotterdam, NL. Reading through your stories confirms, with joy, that I’ve arrived in the right community. A few of you I know from Counterplay this year in Aarhus, and all of you I’m eager to connect with over our shared fascination about play & society.

I’ve been exploring play and games for the last three years, starting in the last year of my studies at the Willem de Kooning design academy in Rotterdam. I specialized in the theory of play and games and graduated with a play-based approach to organizational change called Future Flex, which combines Theory U with the power of the magic circle to shift the way organizations approach uncertainty.

The development of this project, which I did collaboratively with Playspace Studio, is based on my belief in play as a non-violent disruptor of systems, norms, and mental models. Play is both an (inter)action, an approach, and a life-way. Living and working through play is a way of seeing the seemingly fixed constraints of reality as malleable, or as scaffolding that asks to be played-around and built upon. Play can also be non-productivity, non-capitalist, non-sense. Exploring divergent possibilities through play is the opposite of acting out of fear of uncertainty. This last thought is what has led me to explore the role of play in the realm of innovation. For the last year, I’ve been working with the methodology of Design Thinking with organizations, and experimenting with applied play in various “serious” contexts. I’ve worked with a Dutch multi-national corporation to create trainings for the future of leadership, the service design studio Zeewaardig to bring Design Thinking into the public sector, and with strategic foresight studio Changeist designing and facilitating their “How to Future” course at the Dubai Future Academy, among other future-oriented workshops.

In all of these contexts, designing experiential learning and creating a safe space to explore uncertainty (through play) is at the core of my practice. I want to continue deepening my practice as a facilitator of play-based experiences, and the Trust in Play fellowship feels like the perfect community in which to develop this. The realm that is currently tickling my interesting and attention is the built environment- the city. I want to combine my origins as an installation artist, creating aesthetic, spacial experiences that shift behavior through immersion, with my current play-based practice to create interventions in urban spaces. I’ve been trying to gain the courage to initiate my first of hopefully many Urban Play Walks, a semi-guided group tour through urban space to disrupt the flow of the city through playful intervention and interact with the built environment in a way it wasn’t designed for. My first of these interventions in tentatively planned for the end of June. If you’re based in NL and are keen on joining, absolutely reach out!

The Trust in Play Fellowship is positioned in this perfect niche of my emerging interest and zone of exploration. I hope I’ll have the opportunity to connect (and play) with all of you in Athens & Amsterdam. In any case, I’d love to build a community of play-practitioners here in NL!

Cheers to all of you.

human-centered designer / practitioner of play


Hello everyone!

My name is Anais Alfieri. I grew up in Greece, but moved to Germany about 7 years ago. Currently I live in Berlin and am about to finish my Master in Urban Design. I have not yet designed a game, but have been involved in different “playful” projects, interacting a lot with all kinds of people, learning from each other and developing ideas together. I have also participated in games like a treasure hunt in Athens which made me travel to the “Interwar period” or a digital map game in Hamburg which was a participatory game called “Finding places”. It was developed to activate citizens and speed up the process of finding new spaces for refugee housing.
Urban Games is a topic I have been encountering a lot in the past years and I think it is a great opportunity to explore/redesign cities and bring its citizens together. Then I bumped into this program and it sounds very exciting as well as all the posts and stories I have read here.
I have been involved in different participation projects and I think that everyone should get more involved in the city they live in. For me a more playful approach might be the solution to get people to discover more, learn or even redesign the spaces they live in. Most of all I guess, I just want to share my passion and enthusiasm about cities and exploring them, with other people.

I am very looking forward to the results of Trust in Play and hope I can be part in this creative journey.


Hello, i’m Prerit,
I am 32 year old from Indore, a city in central India.
I have background in toy and game design and in oral healthcare . i used to work as a dentist but currently working around play and pedagogy through games.i try to look at education, public healthcare sector and socialization through playful media .Themes of play,childhood,gender,visual culture interest me.

My masters project was about curriculum design through play for an NGO based in India that works for marginalized children and society. it is meant to develop tools to empower young leaders working in public education sector and social work.i incorporated elements of play in their daily schedule, understanding urban youth i have incorporated customize memes to deliver information,affirmative tool and mode of communication to inculcate transparency in organization through a participator approach. however it did not worked smoothly as i thought because i did not understood how to navigate power dynamics in the organization.understanding politics and bureaucratic protocols for a designer is also is critical when working with an organisation which can influence the outcome.

During free time i like to make spiritually inspired fractal art,role playing masks/wearable and plaything for imaginary rituals and experimental audio-video art

i hope this group give me opportunity to explore relationship between urban environment, collective human playfulness and nature.

you can see my work at


Hello everyone!

I’m Gabriela, 26 years old, based in Frankfurt am Main, but grown up in Athens.
During my studies at T.E.I. of Athens, department of graphic design, I was working as a tour guide at Athens Segway Tours.

Going around the city in the 2-wheel vehicle was a lot of fun for me and for the tourists. But more fun was the conversations that I had with them about their experiences in Athens and in Greece and their questions about things that for me were obvious. And this is how everything started. I decided to create a list with all their questions and all the stories they had during their stay in my country. All this process made me realize that when we live in a place, we don’t really observe what’s around us. Sometimes we need to see things from a different perspective. That different point of view, came to me through the tourists.

That list that I mentioned above, developed to an idea to create an alternative tourist guide concerning secret trivia underlying cliches of Athens and Greece, in total. There are plenty of souvenirs everywhere in the world that show the most important elements of a place. But none of them explains you what is this, that you just bought. Well, there is not enought space actually to write a story on a small, for example, magnet. And this is were I focused. I created illustrations that I show some hidden information about the clichès, and a website where exploiting the decomposition or composition of these cliches, the importance of partial elements and overall the cliches is highlighted.

This concept was actually my thesis project. A project that I am still working on and I want to develop more. Here you can check the website: (currently under construction), and the presentation of the concept on my portfolio website:

For me Urban Play is a need for every city, for the visitors but mainly for the locals. I am very excited to find this community and I will be even more happy, if I have the chance to participate in this project and collaborate with all of you. From my experience, to collaborate with people from different backgrounds, to hear their stories and to visualize their thoughts can have amazing results.

I hope we’ll meet in Athens and make some great stuff together! :slight_smile: :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

Thank you,


Hello everybody!
I am Nikos, an architect with a special interest in cultural heritage management and reuse, currently living in Piraeus, Greece.

Because of my background, I really like to create urban games that attempt to reconnect abandoned places to the city fabric. Although it might sound strange at first, those kinds of places in Greece are usually monuments of one kind or another (archaeological, industrial, neoclassical etc). The biggest event that I host annually is located at the site of the ancient shipsheds (which is the place where the ancient athenian warships were stored). Each year the gaming theme changes, up to now there has been a casual gaming theme, an escape room and a narrative driven adventure game, all of them related to the monument’s history, thus raising awareness about the site in a cool way! (FYI this event will run in like 10 days, so if you are in Athens on the 8th and 9th of June you are most welcome to participate by coming to Akti Moutsopoulou and Syrangiou 1 st, Piraeus from 20.00 to 23.00).
Apart from this, I also host educational workshops for primary and secondary education children which include making board games with 3d printing, replicating and playing with ancient games and writting text based rpgs.

So excited to be part of this community!
Best of luck to everybody!



I am Katherine and I am currently getting my Masters in Urban Design and City Planning at University College London in the Bartlett School of Planning. I am from Minneapolis, Minnesota, but am living in London. I went to the University of Minnesota - College of Design with a background in housing and community development. I am currently on the Goldstein Museum of Design at the University. I have nine years of experience in housing, placemaking, community events, community engagement and outreach, and city planning. I have worked for international organisations such as Habitat for Humanity and Urban Land Institute. I was a part of a placemaking start up to “create places where people want to be” called The Musicant Group. After starting my own consulting business, I decided to go back to school to gain a larger expertise on urban design and city planning around the world. I love to travel and have been to over twenty countries and counting. I have a passionate for creating places for all and bringing people together in urban spaces. Happy to be a part of this community! Keep up the good work everyone!


Hello everyone!

My name is Katerina, I am from Greece and i am happy to be here!

I have an educational background in Civil Engineering and Urban Planning (Msc), as also in Acting. Amongst others, I have worked as an actress and theater maker, while the last 3 years i am a core member of UrbanDig Project - an interdisciplinary platform dealing with community engagement practices, innovative participatory actions & site-specific performances.

There, I had the opportunity to explore a wide range of artistic and playful interactions in public space, some of which I also studied further through my master thesis. Site-specific, live art performances in public space, a digital tour app named "The Village_Omonia" (created along with the Dutch "Company New Heroes") and the site-specific performative game "DeMOS | the game" (that begun in LABOURGAMES, travelled in Germany and is about to travel in Valencia for the Placemaking Week Europe 2019) are some of the cases that i need to mention, in order to better describe what we are working on, along with my team-mates.

I have always been attracted by being involved to playful situations along with others - and this is what lead me from time to time to several workshops. A kind of strange story I could share is during a live-art performance, in Dourgouti neighborhood (Athens, Greece), where the audience thought that I was a drug dealer! It was a really strange feeling, as people were afraid of me just from my looks! This made me think even more on what being guided by stereotypes in the urban public space means: In the first place, it may sometimes be useful to protect oneself. But at the same time, this also may mean that the “other” is always a source of fear and not a human subject that is also probably afraid and needs to be accepted and considered as equal – which is problematic and needs to change. So that brings us back to Trust. And gaming is an excellent form that can be filled in with meaningful content!

I hope that we will be able to meet and discuss more on that guys! Wish you the best!


Hi all!!
My name is Theodora and I’m very excited to be here reading your posts and feeling the passion for gaming behind the lines:-) I am Greek, working for the City of Athens for the past 5 years as an advisor on Social Policy and mainly focusing on homelessness and urban development as a a tool for social inclusion.
My interest in gaming goes back to my bachelor/masters/phd years as a law student, in Greece & France respectively, and includes involvement in various RPG, LARP and historical reconstitution games. I have since experimented in using role-playing as an experiential & inclusive educational tool in university courses on constitutional and EU law. More recently, I started testing role-playing as a team-building tool and as an improved presentation method in several municipal projects on the Social Policy field. In early 2019, I designed and currently narrating & coordinating a post-apocalyptic RPG campaign, bringing forth current debate on climate change. Urban Play design feels like the next important step allowing to link my constant passion for RPG experimentation with my professional activities on social inclusion at the City level.
Very happy to have found you and very eager to learn, share and become part of the Community!


Hello everybody…
I am Lorenzo Fresh.
Nomadic subject. At the moment living in Europe.
I dance from urban anthropology and design research. Working for a dynamic Italian company and consulting on user research related themes.
I am extremely interested in urban games and in my spare time, I work on few personal projects. Among my projects, few years ago with a a great architect, Romolo Ottaviani (Stalker experience) we have been invited to the Nuit Blanche of Paris where we made a temporary playful installation “Amacario all’ Hopital Cochin “.
Lovely to sense such a great energy in the community.

to stalk me, pls visit my instagram @lorenzofresh_research

regards and play you soon,


Oh, I like these thoughts. I grew up in a village and remember the organised festivities with uniformed marching groups of fun-havers which I haven’t seen since moving to the bigger cities I lived in in the past years. The real threat of being outcast requires me to belong. As a citydweller who does not belong in the village of my past, playing there now is a whole different game. How do you explore this in practice?


Theodora, this sounds bad-ass! Can I play-test?


Hi Everyone,

I’m Cong Du. I’m originally from Beijing China, but currently live in Washington,D.C in United State. I’m a recent graduate student from a MA Game Design program in here. I heard this program just from one of our professor Chloe Varelidi.

I like to play and design games which can strengthen the bond of friendship. In my 2 years program, the first game I made is a board game called Running. Basically a group of player use dice to run on my designed board, and use trap card to encumber other player. The rule is pretty simple but it worked and my friends and I enjoy it during the game. Afterwards, one of my classmate deep research in Magic Leap, a wonderful device for play AR game. I used to watch AR projection on shows, but that is the first time I personally played AR game. I feel AR technology can perfectly combine virtual and reality and it makes players experience the thrill of virtual world in the city.

Beside that, I’m very enjoying to make new friends by urban games. I play Pokemon Go a lot in U.S and I’m fascinated how they build the community (currently Mainland China cannot play Pokemon Go). I did some research on that and I think the key point is organizing an activity which engages people have to play together. In Washington,D.C area, there are many free museum open to public. Many of them support interactive exhibition or group game to lead people deep learning what they show. The most memorable one is a spy museum that they have a game let players find things through the device in a few blocks near the museum. Although the mechanism is simple, it is a very effective way for visitors not only to learn how spies work, but also let visitors better appreciate the details of the city.

In Beijing I think they aren’t many this sort of activity before due to the policy limit. However, last summer when I went back, I do found more interactive exhibition was there than before. I believe this is a signal that reveals China has the potential to create more urban game/exhibition. As a game designer, I am willing to see tourists enjoy any local details for the city through my game. That’s kind of achievement for me, and that’s my explanation for Trust in Play.

I’d like to see all of our participants since we all have different background! That’ll be extremely helpful for our design, for the community, and for the world.



Hello everyone!!
My name is Nastia Alexander Garachtchenko (they/them - они+им) and I am an animator and game designer who just finished their degree at the Maryland Institute College of Art!!

I went to college wanting to be an Illustrator or Painter, but within my first semester I joined our school’s Urban Gaming Club, and since then, I have worked on 7 urban games within that group! Joining the club led me to take some more game design classes, and I became very interested in using technology as a tool of interaction. Because of my involvement in the Game Design program I was invited to work on a public game called MICA BALL! a game created to teach first year students about the campus and what it means to build a supportive, artistic community.
More recently, I have been making small interactive experiences through the use of technology. Vian Nguyen and I worked on a small Spelunking Game which uses photodiodes to sense what level a small light was lowered to within a small tube, and the lights on the outside of the tube would respond based on how much light the photodiodes were sensing.
I love these experiences, and find a lot of joy in designing, coding, and creating them!


I’m so excited by what I’ve been reading on the forum! All of you are doing such interesting work, and I look forward to potentially meeting you someday!!


Hi, everyone! My name is Yvonne. I am a first year PhD student at the University of Edinburgh. My current project is to explore the possibility of relieving loneliness in old age by design.

I have a background in industrial design and product design, and I have rich experience in playing games (not designing games haha), but the games here are the majority of video games. I was addicted to video games when I was in middle and high school. My parents even cut the Internet and hid the mouse and the keyboard (at that time, I still used a desktop computer at home) to prevent me from playing games. Although I have stopped playing video games since I entered the university, the attraction and stickiness of video games have left a deep impression on me.

During the process of studying loneliness in old age, I found that the majority of current intervention always put the elderly in a passive position. They “help” the aged to build relationships with the outside world by introducing and teaching them with new knowledge and technologies, such as smartphone, Internet and computer. However, this passive leading way is failed to promote motivation of the aged, which results that they might be forgotten in the dust by users after working once or twice. Facing this situation, I recalled the properties of video games. I wonder why not pull the property of stickiness of video games out the metaverse, and combine it with elderly design in the real world, which might be able to transform the passive position of the aged to a positive one, thereby promote their motivation to use those interventions more actively and frequently.

I hope I can meet interesting people and ideas here, have fun!