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    Written by Luke Hohmann
    on January 08, 2014

    Addition of online games enables potentially thousands of residents to engage, participate and prioritize to help shape their city’s future.

    SAN JOSE, Calif. – Conteneo, in partnership with the City of San José, is expanding the reach of the city’s fourth annual Budget Game to potentially thousands of local residents through a new online version of this innovative community engagement tool. The goal of the in-person and online sessions of the games is to obtain insights from citizens on with which city officials can make the required difficult decisions about the city’s budget.

    Since 2011, Conteneo has produced a specialized version of its “Buy a Feature” game for the City of San José. These Budget Games have been used to engage neighborhood leaders during an annual half-day event at City Hall regarding priorities for spending, tradeoffs, and budget cuts for the City’s annual $2.9 billion budget. During the second year of Budget Games, 80% of the recommendations generated by participants were adopted and integrated into the City’s budget.

    “Like many cities, San José continues to face difficult budget situations that require tough prioritizations with direct effects on San José residents,” said Luke Hohmann, CEO and founder of Conteneo. “In the past, these effects have included reduced community services, employee layoffs and pay cuts, and deferred maintenance to balance the budget.

    “Along with the city, we strongly believe that residents should have a voice in this process since budget decisions can make a big difference in the quality of life for all members of the community.”

    Road repair, fire and police department staffing, funding of community centers, public library hours and potential bond or tax measures are among the topics that residents have prioritized using budget games. This year, the games will drive community input on budget priorities and alternatives including the possibility of asking voters for a sales tax increase that could provide resources to help meet important community needs.

    “Resident input is critical to San José’s community-based budget process,” said Mayor Chuck Reed. “When we’ve had shortfalls, our priority setting session provided early input to help rank difficult choices.

    “More recently, we’ve added police officers, restored funding for gang prevention and intervention, and opened shuttered library branches based on feedback from our community.”

    The fourth annual Budget Games in-person event will take place at City Hall on Saturday, January 18. This year, the event will be followed by free, hour-long online Budget Game sessions held on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, January 23-25, from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

    “By engaging residents in a fun, user-friendly way, participants can achieve a better understanding of the tough choices their city government must make every year, and City Hall gets a better picture of what the community is thinking,” said Hohmann.

    Both the in-person and online versions of the games will be moderated by volunteer Conteneo facilitators. In the past, the Budget Games used physical play money and calculators for participants to discuss, debate, and define their budget priorities, but this year the game has been redesigned for broader and more flexible participation.

    Mark McGregor, who facilitated at last year’s games, said of the experience, “It was both a fascination and a privilege to listen to the debates and discussion around the table, as these people considered what was best for their community. It was equally impressive to watch how people changed their perceptions based upon new inputs from other players.”

    About Conteneo
    Mountain View-based Conteneo uses the science of play and collaboration through games to help businesses and governments with actionable insights for marketing, product development, and public policy. Formerly known as The Innovation Games® Company, Conteneo’s proprietary social game technology and techniques uncover customer and user preferences, values, emotions and other behavioral drivers in real-time, in person, and across the globe. Its proprietary, enterprise-class SaaS platform offers on-demand access in a secure and scalable manner, along with rich analytics and downloadable reports of game results that enable clients to tap into stakeholder creativity and insight through collaboration and game play. For more information, go to

    About the City of San José
    Known as the Capital of Silicon Valley, San José is the nation’s tenth largest city and the largest city in Northern California with an ethnically diverse population of 971,000. San José was founded in 1777, once served as the state capital of California, and now encompasses 180 square miles. Facts about San José can be found here: The City’s website is

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