Skip to main content
Unpublished Paper
Preamble: A Social Production Game and Vehicle for Citizen Political Participation in California
ExpressO (2011)
  • Andrew J Ziaja

This paper proposes a market-based social game in which players earn and trade influence—expressed as Influence Dividends (“ID”)—as currency, with the ultimate goal of drafting and qualifying low- to no-budget California ballot initiatives. The game’s working title is “Preamble,” after the famous second preamble of the United States Declaration of Independence.

Ballot initiative proposals would be subject to a 269 word limit, which equals the length of the famous second preamble to the Declaration of Independence. The 269-word limit and link to the Declaration of Independence underscores that important political documents can be brief, while further serving to solemnize and lend excitement to the game atmosphere. The 269-word limit also indirectly responds to the legal requirement that ballot initiatives limit their scope to only one subject; it is difficult to cover more than a single subject in so few words. This encourages players to limit their focus to simple and discrete issues.

Game-play moves through five stages, which are described in further detail below. In brief, they are the Quiz, Think Tank, Marketplace, Policy Lab, and Enactment Streams. The general dynamics are that players develop expertise and earn ID in the Quiz Stream, develop policy ideas and spend ID in the Think Tank Stream, express policy preferences and spend ID in the Marketplace Stream, remix policy ideas and spend ID in the Policy Lab Stream, and earn ID in the Enactment Stream. The game mechanisms intend to educate players about policy-making while rewarding them for contributing their labor to generating real ballot initiatives. In particular, rewards would be greatest for participating in the Enactment Stream, in which players volunteer to gather the signatures necessary to qualify a ballot initiative, thereby circumventing the prohibitive cost of a traditional signature-gathering campaign.

  • California,
  • ballot initiative,
  • ballot measure
Publication Date
Spring 2011
Citation Information
Andrew J Ziaja. "Preamble: A Social Production Game and Vehicle for Citizen Political Participation in California" ExpressO (2011)
Available at: