Different video games may have different capabilities/functions to achieve different participatory outcomes. Take Cities Skylines as an example, the following steps demonstrate how a video game can be used as a participatory planning tool.
The first step is simulating the terrain and urban layout of the target site in the game. There are also many community-created modifications (mods)can be downloaded to enhance the realism level. The modelling should be indicative of the existing problem(s) in the site.
Although video games are usually more user-friendly compared to professional planning software, participants still need to learn how to play. In addition, organisers should explain basic planning knowledge and basic logic of the game to the participants. Participants should also learn how to install the game, what can they do in it, what is the purpose of it, etc.
Once the participants are empowered to play around in the game, they should be encouraged to create their desired scenario or to provide a solution for an existing problem.
Test and showcase
The game can not only allow participants to design and implement new plan, once changes are made, impact will appear gradually. Therefore, the game can be used to test new planning ideas. Besides collecting planning ideas from participants, the game also supports planners to showcase their plan to others, illustrating the expected appearance and impact.