The current wave of democratic disquiet and threats such as surveillance capitalism and climate change, ask for strong civic response. We need a re-imagination of society and our environment as commons: collectively designed and maintained goods based on genuine democratic principles and practices.

The commons are increasingly recognized as a source of generative social practice and political imagination. It is a paradigm that is both old and new: the commons-based society goes back deep into history, but has found new ways in the rise of the Internet and peer production. Now that European democracy is challenged by illiberal forces and big tech, however, the revitalization of the commons is not just ‘nice to have’ but will prove crucial to keep society open, fair and inclusive.

To achieve this, people need easy, diverse and engaging means to ‘live’ the commons. In Gaming for the Commons, games take centre-stage. Games with a social-political narrative can be used to make people think about society and the world they want to live in. Serious games raise awareness about specific challenges, foster critical thinking and facilitate group decision making. There are (board)games that touch upon the democratization of public space and the commons, but there is great untapped potential to further develop and disclose these games. 

In the Common Play With Us! game nights we aim to discover the potential of (board)games to help us reclaim the urban commons. Games will be played, discussed and contextualized so as to improve their practical application in co-creative settings. We will develop an on-line repository containing examples of commons-oriented games and support the community of people interested in games with a social-political narrative.

This project continues and builds out the earlier ‘Common Play With Us’ events Waag organized in 2019. These evenings drew a mixed crowd of lay people, game enthusiasts, game developers, commons practitioners, and so forth. They enabled a lively exchange of knowledge about game principles and examples in which games have an impact on democratic and inclusive society.

Gaming for the Commons is supported by the European Cultural Foundation and the BankGiro Lottery Fund.


BankGiro Loterij Fonds

European Cultural Foundation

Project duration

1 Sept 2019 - 1 May 2020