Since the 1960s, games have been used and tested on numerous occasions of user involvement in city development. The authors see the call for more participation in line with a general change in the understanding of how knowledge is produced. According to sociologist Helga Nowotny, a renovation of the relationship between science-based knowledge and practical experience is evolving. Referring to the Greek democracy, Nowotny coins the term ‘Agora’, a ‘new public space’ where science and society, scientists and ‘lay-experts’ communicate.

Games, in this sense, lower thresholds in participation and create discussion formats that circumvent existing hierarchies, professional positions, and differences in prior knowledge. Games offer a different approach in collaboration between residents, planners, and planning authorities and encourage sharing and testing of ideas in ‘what if?’ or ‘let’s imagine’ situations. Being just a game, the participatory process avoids generating promises, false hopes, or seemingly unchangeable facts.

We distinguish between games as planning simulations and games as communication forms. The first help the layperson, or laypeople, to become familiar with the complexity of planning and offer a simplified mode of direct participation in a design process. The second type recognize players as experts of everyday life rather than as planners. These games help to retrieve socially robust knowledge, as the mainstay for future development, without focusing solely on planning intentions.

In this chapter, we discuss these two differences in methodology by reflecting on three case studies of internationally tested games and three further ones that the authors developed for specific planning projects in Berlin. We want to show that games can be effective tools to retrieve essential information for better planning if the nature of the game fits the setting and stage of planning; it can range from multi-stage intensive workshops sessions to quick and instant public gaming setups.