Introducing @Stake for Mobile: a multi-player game fostering creativity and empathy in public deliberation

The Engagement Lab just launched a new mobile version of @Stake, a digital multiplayer role-playing game that builds empathy and creativity for small group deliberation. Whether it’s used in classrooms, conferences, strategic board meetings, or public events, @Stake helps players understand how productive conversations thrive with authentic listening and diverse perspectives.

Even when all sides have the best intentions, civic or political issues often involve conflicting interests coupled with deep resentments and community divides. Building a new highway, for example, is seldom only a question of the highway’s design, but the future of the land, the community, and individual residents.

With @Stake for mobile, players are provided a deeper understanding of community needs by considering different perspectives before making decisions. In the game, 3–5 players introduce their character’s perspectives, jump into think mode to invent creative solutions to the issue being discussed, and take turns proposing their ideas and arguing for their character’s point of view, complete with secret agendas. After three rounds, the player with the most points wins and retains bragging rights as “best deliberator!”

@Stake began as a tabletop card game in 2013 to facilitate conversations about youth unemployment in Moldova with the UNDP. Since then, it has been used in a number of workshops and conferences all over the world. After increased demand for the game and a research study with the Participatory Budgeting Project, the Engagement Lab received a Knight Foundation prototype grant in 2015 to make a mobile version. The resulting mobile game synthesizes and streamlines the card game experience to make it easier and more immediately playable.

“@Stake is a simple, and free, tool that helps groups of people deliberate about complex issues. We often forget how difficult it is for diverse groups of people, with varying interests and agendas, to talk to each other, show respect for one another, and truly listen. This game is an important tool for any democracy toolkit, because all democratic process starts with dialogue.” said Eric Gordon, Executive Director of the Engagement Lab and Professor at Emerson College.

Play our new mobile version of @Stake here, or download the analog version of the game here.