Datopolis board game

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Datopolis is a board game about building things – services, websites, devices, apps, research – using closed and open data. It was designed and developed by Ellen Broad and Jeni Tennison at the Open Data Institute

People to talk to about Datopolis board game

Datopolis is a board game about building things – services, websites, devices, apps, research – using closed and open data. It was designed and developed by Ellen Broad and Jeni Tennison at the Open Data Institute

It’s set in a town called Sheridan, which is gradually declining as shops close, teachers quit, hedgehogs go extinct and pollution rises. The tools players build contribute to making Sheridan a healthier, wealthier, happier place to live.

There’s a short version and a long version of Datopolis. The short version is useful for team workshops and away days – it can be played within 20 – 30 minutes, and gets people comfortable talking to each other and negotiating to build tools with data. The longer version is for people who like to play board games – it has added role cards, bad things happening in Sheridan and generally more complexity.

The graphic design is by Chris Wells from FolkLabs.

Why a board game?

Board games communicate complex ideas in simple ways. They’re tactile, social, offer fresh ways of communicating what can be fairly uninteresting themes (trading wheat and sheep anyone??), and sometimes, if they’re good, Kim Kardashian might buy one.

Open data can be a little… exclusive. If you’re working with data, talking about data, or in an area where more open data could be useful, then it’s easier to grasp. If you’re interested in access to information, or transparency and accountability, then you might have come across open data. But if you’re not already on board (hehe) with open data, you may need other ways to understand its role and impact. A board game is one way of capturing interest in open data, without people necessarily realising they’re absorbing knowledge about open data.

A board game is a fantastic novel way of talking about open data, and fits in with the ODI’s myriad approach to illustrating the benefits of open data (from Data as Culture to videos to white papers and world class research to open data training) and helps demonstrate how ecosystems grow around data. It’s also a physical thing we could give to people we like – or who we want to like us.

Use Datopolis to learn with the ODI

Want to learn more about data sharing through the fun game Datopolis? Need to find a new way to engage your team around data issues? Get in touch and we can lead you through a Datopolis board game session.