The Playable City Project is a global initiative to connect people with their cities and cultures through urban play, using technology to start a social dialogue between citizens about the development of their own city.

The Playable City Network is an expanding global community of cities, which include Tokyo, Oxford, Austin, Seoul, Lagos and Melbourne among others. Melbourne’s first playable city meeting took place recently as part of the Melbourne International Games Week, with the city playing host to designers, urban planners and artists from around the world.

Welcoming the global urban play community to the city, RMIT Vice-Chancellor’s senior research fellow Dr Troy Innocent observed that the playable city approach to civic engagement can improve public spaces and infrastructure and connect people to their cities and each other.

“Playable cities draw on an eclectic mix of play, creative technologies, public art and urban design and we’re really looking forward to exploring how Melbourne can be reimagined through multidisciplinary collaboration,” says Innocent. 

RMIT researchers including N’arweet Carolyn Briggs produced TIMeR, a narrated audiowalk that reveals RMIT’s hidden Indigenous history, and invites listeners to reimagine RMIT's City campus. Users are prompted to scan geometric tags around the campus to hear stories that reveal alternate cartographies of the landscape, allowing them to reimagine familiar sites.

Innocent says this combination of ancient knowledge and new technology was already expanding the ways in which playable cities connected people and place.

“Melbourne is an incredible city, full of exciting possibilities, a thriving creative sector and a growing multicultural population with an appetite for new exciting creative technology ideas," adds Hilary O'Shaughnessy from UK-based digital creativity centre, Watershed. 

“These are the perfect ingredients for a Playable City. We know Melbourne is liveable, now let’s make it playable."

As part of the Melbourne International Games Week, a demo of 64 Ways of Being was presented to provide the first Playable City Melbourne experience. Combining live art, augmented reality and gaming technology, the free mobile app transforms Melbourne into a giant playable city, allowing players to explore, experience and connect with the city at 64 locations.

64 Ways of Being is a collaboration between Innocent, live arts group 'one step at a time like this', and game developer Millipede working with Watershed.