Helsinki’s participation game

The City of Helsinki launched the Participation Game in 2017 as an internal training tool to help City employees to engage more effectively with citizens in planning, developing and improving city services. According to the City’s website, the Game helps city employees ask different resident groups smarter questions about the things under preparation.

The game is part of a wider city strategy which has seen a comprehensive restructuring of the City Council, including its leadership and departments. The City has adopted a new political governance system aimed at strengthening democracy, which includes the offices of the Mayor and four Deputy Mayors. At the same time the City has reorganised from thirty-one departments into four sectors.

The city’s goal is to increase the opportunities of citizens to hear about matters concerning themselves and to influence those matters. Participation Game helps them to recognize what things are done well and what could be improved.

The development of Participation Game  involved over one hundred City employees representing all city departments and was managed by service design agency Hellon. The game has been tested out almost 250 time by over 2,000 City employees.

The concept of citizen engagement and the co-design of public policy is not new for Helsinki. The city has successfully been using participatory design since 2012, including reshaping museum experiences, implementing a city bike scheme and engaging with over 12,000 teenagers to set the budgets for their neighbourhood leisure activities.

Impacts will be evaluated with a specific monitoring tool, designed to document the participation plans created during the game and produce measurable data on the outcomes of participation.

Further Reading:

City services developed with Participation Game (City of Helsinki website, 05 Apr 2017)

How Helsinki uses a board game to promote public participation (Bloomberg Cities, 17 Jan 2018)

City of Helsinki’s Participation Game attracts worldwide interest (City of Helsinki website, 24 Jan 2018)

Laitio, T., Participation in Helsinki (Slideshare, 30 Mar 2017)

Laitio, T., Making engagement meaningful in Helsinki (Centre for Public Impact, 15 Jan 2018)

Nieto, F., Sharing playfulness – Human Cities Helsinki 2017 (Human Cities)


Image:  Helsinki, Finland by Sami C licenced under CC BY 2.0

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