A simple card game to explore the potential of Open Data

Marc Barto
Oct 9, 2015 · 5 min read
Image for post
Image for post

What is this game for?

A quick game for open data advocates, workshops organisers and designers. The aim is to make it easier for users to discuss and explore data, and generally to get people more excited about the potential of open data. The game can be played during workshops, hackdays and co-design activities.

Credit for this concept goes to Jag Goroya who developed it during his open data workshops and then generously invited others to experiment with it Open Data Camp. Also thanks to FutureGov for letting me test the game during our events.

Find below screen-shots, guidelines and the files to create your own card deck…

Image for post
Image for post

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

2. Designers are not trained to work with data. Designers often say that data feels too abstract. Visualisation tools can help, but they require being pre-processing by someone who know what questions to ask the and has the right skills to use the tool.
For collaboration or co-design sessions, designers need an easy way to showcase, explore and combine the content of a dataset without opening the files.

Creating the card deck

This activity is based on 2 type of resources : Datasets from within the organisation you’re working with, and datasets from external sources (e.g Open Corporates, ONS data) which will bring great value when combined together. You can use the sample deck provided but I found easier to work with data that participants can easily relate to, so I recommend creating a customised deck.

We first tested this activity with public servants so we used data opened as part of the Local Government Transparency Code, which generally includes a mix of financial, property, organisational and planning information. The strength of this game comes from data-combining, which enabled participants to see the potential of this data in a new light.

Game guidelines

Image for post
Image for post

Below is the template provided to groups. Players will place their 3 selected cards and write down “insights”.

Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
In some workshops, we had pre-established user personas which speeded up identifying the problems to solve
Image for post
Image for post

What happens next

Depending on your event format, many more game variations are possible (e.g. a second round to refine the ideas and get specific questions for developers, work with a prepared scenario etc.).

I’m curious to hear what you will come up with…

What the users said about the activity

Overall feedback has been positive, participants enjoyed being able to manipulate the cards (some traded with other tables) and all ended up communicating in simple ways about data. When run with local councils, it helped develop useful conversations about the organisation: How data is created, maintained and how services could work together to improve them.

There were lots of insights and ideas collected… more on them in a future post.

Next development steps:

More data games

Now it’s your turn: you can either download the sample deck below or create your own. Do share your comments and decks. I’m specially interested in hearing from designers and hope they will apply their thinking to improve the game.

Download the files

You can find all the files on Github. Logo created by Roxana Bacian

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch

Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore

Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store