After many nervous moments and late nights, Gotham Gazette’s The Garbage Game is on our site and ready for players. This is the first in a series of six games on key policy issues facing New York City that Gotham Gazette will be producing over the next two years. As we hope you’ll see for yourself, this one focuses on managing the almost 7 billion pounds of residential trash that New Yorkers produce every year.

The idea behind the games is to let New Yorkers not only read about policy dilemmas but play an active role in addressing them. And we hope the game format brings people, who might otherwise not read about an issue, into the discussion. In the weeks to come, we’ll be reporting on the results of the game and on reactions to it. And we plan to relay the policy prescriptions to people at City Hall.

Much of the discussion here has focused on the use of open source software — and not Flash — for the game. We used OpenLazlo and would be interested in your reactions to that. One big concern is what — if anything — the game loses by not being in Flash.

But the software was just one part of the puzzle. Putting together this type of game involves hundreds, if not thousands, of decisions. It demands the kind of reporting that goes into a feature story — but that’s only the beginning. In this game, for example, we had to determine what types of garbage to include, which policy options should be offered, how to strike the balance between provding information and not cluttering the to make the game fun and substantive. And so on.

After the staff at Gotham Gazette has a bit more time to reflect, we’ll probably blog more about some issues involved here. But in the meantime, please offer your comments, questions and suggestions.