Growth Chip Game

The Chip Game


Growth Chip Games are a fun, effective activity to engage community members in planning decisions. Players use chips to represent development attributes and place them on maps to create different scenarios for growth and change.

Tool Description

The Chip Game (and many variations of it) allows citizens to try their own hands at scenario planning, using Legos™, poker chips, or other symbols to allocate units (or housing, economic development, conservation land, or other attributes). 

In most cases, citizens are placed into small groups with maps of the planning area and are given some guidelines, such as required amounts of density, a certain number of units to allocate, or restrictions on placement and land uses.  Each group must then create a scenario for the area by placing the chips on the map where the group would like to see the future land uses occur.

The Chip Game is a take-off on other low-tech participatory voting tools, and can be adapted for many different types of planning and decision-making processes.  It is usually used for allocating growth or creating land use plans.  Chip Games can be used in combindation with GIS-based software, like CommunityViz, to evaluate the impacts of the scenarios that participants develop.  It can also be used in combination with keypad polling to evaluate how all participants feel about different scenarios.

Summary of Costs

Associated Costs
  • Additional Supplies
  • Consulting
  • Facilitation


  • A major advantage of the Chip Game is that it helps participants make decisions, understand broad planning principles, and see tradeoffs. If a certain number of housing units must be built in a community, participants can see how density in one area trades off with open space in another.
  • The game is engaging and fun, and encourages interaction between community members.
  • It can be used in combination with GIS-based tools to evaluate scenarios that participants develop.


  • The Chip Game can be a complicated tool to organize and create. It usually requires a trained facilitator who offers the game.
  • The game works best when the planning scenario is simplified or certain issues can be ignored, but doing so reduces the real-life applicability of the process and the results.
  • The Chip Game is most effective when used in combination with a values discovery process and facilitated discussion.
Submitted By: svannostrand
Last Updated: August 15, 2012, 12:57 pm