The staff of Gotham Gazette is counting down to the day later this fall when our first online game goes up on our site. It’s been an interesting process getting us this far.

First, of course, we needed a concept. In some respects, this was the easy part as brainstorming sessions over the summer produced literally dozens of ideas. We’d like to do them all — and we will do some of them in the next two years — but we decided to do the first one on garbage. What to do with tons and tons of garbage has long been a thorny issue in New York City, one that never seems quite resolved. It’s something New Yorkers care a lot about and it provides policy options that can be clearly presented in a game format.

Our game will have two parts. In the first, players will be residents deciding how to sort their trash.Should it all just go in the garbage can (or, since this is New York, into a big black plastic bag). Or should some be recycled. Maybe you’re willing to put your empty water bottle aside for recycling, but what about an apple core? And can you do anything with a soiled diaper?

Once the player sorts his/her trash, they move to the next portion and play policymaker. What would you do with the city’s garbage. Send it to a city landfill,ship it acorss state lines, convert it to energy? And what about the recyclables?

At the end of the game, players will learn how much money they have spent, how much room they have taken up in a landfill and other costs. And they will send us their plans so we can convey their ideas to City Hall.

Now we just have to make this idea a reality — a process we are in the thick of now. More on that in another posting.