Politics is not often favorably compared to a game, but Max Dieber, director of the Urban Data Visualization Lab in the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois at Chicago, has taken advantage of the playful framework of a computer game to generate youth interest in civic affairs. Along with his staff, Dieber created the Chicago Ward Redrawing Game as a way to show users the importance of participating in the census, voting knowledgably for local representatives, and understanding the Voting Rights Act. This game allows users to play with actual political geographies and actual demographic data. The goal is to redraw municipal Ward boundaries for Chicago using 2010 census data and the 2000 Chicago Ward boundaries.
There are four levels required to complete the game, each one increasing in difficulty.
1. Establish population equity
2. Ensure minority representation
3. Maintain aldermanic residency
The research team understands the advantage of using this computer game as a tool to provide the public with useful information, and they are currently working on obtaining feedback, improving the game, and developing a teacher’s guide so it can be used in the classroom.
Try your hand at the game here.