Gaming the System: role-playing spatial and political change

Quilian Riano


September 1, 2016


“[The] sovereign art, of course, will be the one whose laws rule over the relations among men in their totality. That is, Politics.

Nothing is alien to Politics, because nothing is alien to the superior art that rules the relations among men.

Medicine, war, architecture, etc. – minor and major arts, all without exception – are subject to, and make up, that sovereign art.” — Augusto Boal, Theatre of the Oppressed, 1973

There is perhaps no more satisfying aspect of architectural and urban design than the ability to envision and communicate visions that change the built environment. To do this we have a set of go-to tools: plans, sections, models, renderings, etc. Many of our tools, however, are famously not so good at expanding the conversation, allowing non-architects to join and even question and rework proposed visions. This becomes even more difficult when wanting to engage a broader set of stakeholders who may not understand architectural conventions. This is why I have become increasingly interested in how games and gaming can supplement other design tools to broaden the socio-spatial imagination and conversation. The potential that games bring to architectural production is an open-endedness that seeks to not simply validate a preconceived idea, but instead tests it and creates opportunities for change…”