The Combination of Mobile Applications and Games as a New Method of Community Engagement: Using Race to School as an Example
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The importance of community engagement has long been recognized in the planning field; however, it is still rather hard to achieve Citizen Power, the highest level of Arnstein’s famous ladder of citizen participation. At the same time, most of the engagement methods are outdated and not as efficient and effective as users have wanted. We now live in a new era with the accelerating growth of information and communication technology. It has given us new opportunities and tools that we never had before to change the way people engage in public processes. The high efficiency and large capacity of information and communication technology provides new solutions to old problems with a new hope for democracy revolution. Among the various tools of technology, mobile application (app) is a promising one for the community engagement. On the other hand, according to both theories and practice, humans are easily engaged while playing games. Based on that theory, scholars have explored the idea of using games in community engagement and named the method, Immersive Planning Model. In a similar notion, Dr. Nisha Botchwey invented a board game called Race to School (RTS) in one of her workshops to teach elementary school children about planning. The game is well-received and Dr. Botchwey is expecting to enlarge its influence. Therefore, based on the two concepts, mobile apps and gamification, this paper discusses the possibility of combining the two, which is to develop a RTS mobile app, to advocate planning knowledge.