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Affordable Housing Game

Policy-making game to develop an implementable agenda for affordable housing

The Affordable Housing Game (Play the City and Urban Land Institute, 2016) is an adaptive city-game designed to facilitate a dialogue amongst housing stakeholders (a.o. housing officials, housing providers, investors or non-profit organizations). The game provides a multi-actor environment to test ideas, build housing scenarios and exchange knowledge and points of view with other peers. Thus, participants with different profiles can collaborate, learn and experiment in a safe environment. The main scenario is very realistic as it is based on a detailed land use map of the city with real data of the location (e.g. land costs, density or amount of social housing in the surrounding area). The game materials also contain real policies and city programs information.


When to play

Do you want to test ideas that could be helpful to solve the housing problem of your city? This game encourages people to provide a wide range of solutions to a clearly defined problem by creating scenarios to discuss and share ideas. Thus, a good moment to play it would be during the development phase of a Design Thinking process.

Commons-related features

  • Introduction to key conceptsThe game defines basic elements to understand some aspects of the commons (for example, the meaning of private, public and communal).
  • Exchange views and informationThe game allows players to exchange ideas, information and world views while playing the game. 
  • TrainingThe game helps to confer some skill to the players (for example, guide them to build urban gardens).

Best contexts to play

  • Expert meetingThe game could work well during an expert meeting regarding the commons for different purposes (such as reflecting about an urban challenge in a non-standard way).
  • Multi-stakeholder co-creation sessionThe game can be played to promote a debate with a wide range of actors (a.o. residents, designers or architects).
  • Decision-making activityThe game can guide participant decision-making in a variety of contexts, for example by facilitating a voting or consent process.


  • InformativeThe game conveys concrete knowledge about or insight into a real-world situation.
  • RealisticThe game play closely mimics or emulates real-world dynamics and contexts.
  • Interactive/communalThe game incites a continuous exchange of information, ideas or experiences between the players. The game play is really ‘done together’. 

How to obtain

Contact with the organization Play the City

Check the website of the game