Games for urban sustainability


Guest Editors


• Andrea Vesco, Istituto Superiore Mario Boella, Italy

• Salvatore Di Dio, PUSH design lab, Italy

• Bernat Gaston, I2CAT, Spain


Important dates


• Deadline: March 10, 2019 -> March 31, 2019

• Notification to the authors: April 30, 2019 

• Camera ready paper: May 10, 2019

• Publication of the special issue: end of May, 2019




How is it possible to design more sustainable cities in an era of zero resources, rife social conflicts and unprecedented environmental issues?

When it comes to discussions about urban sustainability, the focus is often on how to bring new technologies to improve the habitat. The general attempt is to innovate, in many different ways, the city hardware. Nowadays the area of urban innovation is experiencing a boom in research attention, in particular considering the human nature. Researchers, private companies and public bodies are now drawing on lessons from the social sciences, trying to understand the behaviors that shape use of resources and how people can be persuaded to use, first of all, less resources. But, as Stephen Wendel in “ Designing for Behavior Change: Applying Psychology and Behavioral Economics” pointed out, people are reluctant in changing their habits. We rarely recognize that to improve the quality of our neighborhood / city / region / planet, and and of our life, we need to change our habits. Even though we know it, we hardly start doing it. It’s hard, indeed, to believe in the butterfly effect ( i.e. that our routines impact the entire ecosystem) so every little change of our daily behaviors is perceived as “unnecessary”.

With the attempt to radically change this perception, behavior change techniques highlighted Gamification as an effective approach to follow. The definition of play elaborated by Bernard Suits in “The Grasshopper: games, life and utopia” really helps to make this connection clear: playing a game is the voluntary attempt to overcome unnecessary obstacles. The triggers of games ( e.g. social motivation, intrinsic benefits and monetary rewards) seem to have the power to provide knowledge, to enhance relational skills and change people perception about unhealthy behaviors, turning unnecessary habit changes into necessary. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in “ Flow. The Psychology of the Optimal Experience” clearly shows that games help to define new enjoyable experiences, change citizens’ unsustainable habits and educate to new environmental and social friendly ones. In the last decade, all over the world, physical and virtual urban games are trying to demonstrate these assumptions, but is it working? This focus session aims at highlighting specifically those games for urban sustainability that have measured (or foreseen) their impact in urban ecosystems according to the triple sustainability ( i.e. social, economic and environmental) or other impact frameworks.


Topics of Interest


• Gamification of urban experiences for the purpose of triple sustainability.

• Games for behaviour change / people at core of the change.

• Co-creation with local stakeholders / co-creation at neighbourhood level.

• Impact assessment (social, economic and environmental) of games in urban areas.

• New organisational and governance concept originated by the use of games for urban sustainability.

• Changes in planning processes due to the use of results and data from urban games development.

• Business models for scaling-up games approaches and make them a sustainable business.


Submission procedure 


All submissions (abstracts and later final manuscripts) must be original and may not be under review by another publication.

The manuscripts should be submitted anonymized either in .doc or in .rtf format. 
All papers will be blindly peer-reviewed by at least two reviewers. Perspective participants are invited to submit a 8-20 pages paper (including authors' information, abstract, all tables, figures, references, etc.). 
The paper should be written according to the IxD&A authors' guidelines .

Submission page -> link
(when submitting the paper please choose the section: 'FS: Games for urban sustainability')

For scientific advices and for any query please contact the guest-editor:


• vesco [at] ismb [dot] it

• s [dot] didio [at] wepush [dot] org


marking the subject as: 'IxD&A focus section on Games for urban sustainability'.