SAMOpoly: Communicating Data Through Game Design

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Margaux Reynolds, Student, Product Design November 7, 2017

Product Design + Designmatters Minor Student, Margaux Reynolds shares her work with the SAMOpoly project an outcome of the Spring 2017 Communicating the Wellbeing of a City with Santa Monica studio.

The objective of this project was to communicate the findings of a wellbeing study, conducted by the City of Santa Monica’s office of Civic Wellbeing. Our concept, SAMOpoly uses this data as a narrative for a physical game. The success criteria of our brief was that people walk away from the game with a sense of the wellbeing findings and the index.  We also strove to communicate the interrelationship of this data amongst its constituents; benefits to some residents can simultaneously be at the expense of other residents.   Games are a great way to communicate this; a player may benefit as a result of their actions, but that benefit can cost another player to take a loss. There are also instances where an action from one player can benefit all players.  So this interrelationship can be positive and negative.  We want the city to be able to use this game as a tool for starting a bigger dialogue that can lead to meaningful policy change in the lives of Santa Monica residents.

The SAMopoly team prototyping the boardgame.

Part of our brief was to communicate our concept across different mediums. Our concept involved not only a table-top board game, but also a digital Instagram account to reach constituents and an immersive full-scale intervention, by using decal graphics and chalk in the environment of the city.

This was a very different project for us because we were able to develop and test our installation concept throughout the term in realtime on the streets of Santa Monica with actual residents.  This was both a humbling and exciting experience.  Through these series of interventions we were able to create a dialogue with the constituents, gain feedback in realtime on the work we were doing and build awareness for the Wellbeing findings.

The Full Scale Installation of SAMOpoly

Read more about the SAMOpoly project and this exciting collaboration with the City of Santa Monica here.


With her work,  Product Designer Margaux Reynolds strives to create relatable, human-centered products and experiences by uncovering a users true needs through unmet opportunity.