A simple card game to explore the potential of Open Data

What is this game for?

What problem is this game trying to solve?

  1. Let’s face it, most people won’t open a spreadsheet unless they have to. Even as more and more people get trained in data literacy, there is still a need for the wider public to engage with the untapped potential of this newly available resource. For this we need discovery tools and activities that are fun and easy to work with

Creating the card deck

  • How many cards do you need? 3 per participant
  • Cards categories: It’s easier to list datasets per category: property, finance, health, environment etc.

Game guidelines

In some workshops, we had pre-established user personas which speeded up identifying the problems to solve
  • Reporting: Allow 2 minutes for each group to share their ideas

What happens next

  • Open discussion: This game naturally creates an open discussion among participants about the data, the organisation, the users, and the potentials benefits of each “insight”.
  • Hackday: If you are working directly with users (or using personas) to develop a prototype during a hackday, the discovery game could be a useful first step.

What the users said about the activity

  • Using physical cards makes it easier to understand potential data combinations
  • More time is needed to explore the themes and write down insights
  • I didn’t know I knew that much about the data
  • I wasn’t sure how to use the template, it would be useful to have instructions on the page
  • It felt like having a discussion about real problems without being blocked by my lack of technical skills

Next development steps:

  • Improve the deck and template designs based on user feedback
  • Card generator: After more iterations we could develop a deck generator that would automatically import headers from any dataset and generate a deck
  • For the fancy decks, why not try printing them on new business cards that have embedded NFC chips that you can configure to do the digital action of your choice?

More data games

  • School of Data is working on a data visualisation game that provides players with scenarios to follow (currently only with a closed license)
  • If you’re into actual card games, check out Open Trumps. It’s a version of the popular card game Top Trumps based on open datasets from the UN and the World Bank. It includes a deck generator software.
  • And of course the ODI crew is developing the promising Open Data Board Game Project

Download the files



Digital Programmes Producer @V_and_A | prev. @UK_CE | @LondonArduino | @MakerAssemblyUK | @MaintenanceFest | Member @WEP_UK

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Marc Barto

Digital Programmes Producer @V_and_A | prev. @UK_CE | @LondonArduino | @MakerAssemblyUK | @MaintenanceFest | Member @WEP_UK