Gamifying the city: E-scooters and the critical tensions of playful urban mobility

Eetu Wallius, Mattia Thibault, Thomas Apperley, Juho Hamari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


This article builds on previous scholarship on urban play, playable cities, and gamification by focusing on the contemporary relationship between play and mobility in cities. The article applies Floch’s semiotic square of valorisations to urban mobility by examining the values that are employed to make sense of movement through the city. The model is developed through Caillois’ forms of play: chance, competition, simulation, and vertigo. The model of playful urban mobility is contextualized in relation to historic and contemporary forms of playful urban activity to illustrate the multiple ways in which play is valorised within mundane, everyday practices of urban mobility. The tensions between playful and practical consequences of these different valorisations of play are located and expanded through a case study of the uptake of the e-scooter drawing on news coverage and promotional materials. The case of the e-scooter illustrates how playful urban mobility marks new connections between civic concerns of data security, physical safety, inclusivity, and urban sustainability, in the field of mobility. The key contribution of this article is an applied model of playful urban mobility which uses the e-scooter to illustrate the potential critical tensions that characterise playful and gamified forms of mobility and transportation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-101
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • E-scooters
  • Gamification
  • personal mobility devices
  • risk perception
  • urban mobility


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