Cities in Play: Empowering Citizens and City Governments to Work for More Responsive Public Policies


As populations and economic potential become increasingly concentrated in urban areas, cities around the world are on the front lines of pressing global issues ranging from inequality to sustainability. Tackling these challenges requires both ingenuity and collaboration between public officials and citizens—and cities need to ensure that residents are equipped to engage. One way is through technology. Technology can be used to improve transparency, accountability, and communication between city officials and their residents. Technology can also empower the next generation of community leaders through civic education games and other platforms.

Toward this end, the Wilson Center and the BRAVA Foundation of Brazil have created a new serious game: Cities in Play. The power of educational games is that they allow us to take complicated issues and present them in a simple but engaging format. Designed with young Brazilians in mind, the game asks each player to become mayor of a Brazilian city and balance policy goals with fiscal realities. Cities in Play challenges the player to come up with their own plan for their city, in a way that is modeled after The Fiscal Ship, the Wilson Center’s award-winning game about the fiscal responsibility with the U.S. federal budget. Already slated to be used as a classroom tool in secondary schools across the state of São Paulo, this new game aims to help young Brazilians gain a better sense of the trade-offs necessary to govern, and invigorate citizen participation.

Join us Thursday, September 7th a half-day conference to launch Cities in Play. You will not only get to try your hand at being mayor (in the game!), but delve into the connections between civic education and more responsive and innovative governance. Panelists include leading researchers and policy experts, including from the U.S. Department of Education, iCivics, Georgetown University, the Aspen Institute’s Center for Urban Innovation, Omidyar Network, and the World Bank.

More details, including the full agenda, to come.