WELCOME TO CITZALIA: A Tour Of The Empty Online World That Cost The EU $362,000


Photo: http://www.citzalia.eu/

Have you ever wanted so badly to be a Member of the European Parliament but found yourself unable to fulfil your desire to be trapped in endless pan-European bureaucracy?Well now, you may have your chance.

Citzalia is an online world created with EU-funding that allows you to see the inner workings of the European Parliament.

Click here to have a look at Citzalia >
Here’s how the makers describe their mission:

Citzalia is a means of understanding how the EU’s democratically elected Parliament works. Through participating in debates and writing articles – not to mention drafting virtual legislation – on issues relating to the European Parliament and EU policy, you will gain insight into and expertise on how democracy works in the EU.

The makers brag that certain MEPs have signed up for the site and users will be able to interact with them in the online world.

We were surprised to see Citzalia in the news yesterday when the Guardian’s Tom Melzor decided to log onto the online world. He found he was the only person there.

Melzor says that the site is finally due to be officially launched next month, though the site appears to be largely operational.

This launch seems well delayed — way back in 2010 UK politician Jon Worth was invited to tour Citzalia, and he was perturbed by the way that EU funds had been spent, predicting it will become a “ghost town”. “Why is the European Parliament spending money on this?” he asked in a blogpost, noting the €275,000 price tag.

So why is the European Parliament spending money on this? We decided to take a tour. We’ll let you know our conclusion upfront: its empty, and some stuff doesn’t seem to work. We have a hard time picturing people using this for “fun”, but perhaps if schoolkids are forced to use it they could well learn something

Welcome to Citzalia!

First I was asked to choose what my avatar looked like.

I wanted him to look like this, but it wouldn't load for some reason...

...so I pressed 'random' a few times and he looked like this.

Here my quest began — in a lobby.

I started by reading a newspaper.

The news was a little old.

Though still informative.

After that I decided to go to the store.

These two guys were not other gamers, they were a hairdresser and a man who sold clothes. I could also change the colour of my skin, unrealistically.

Deciding my current attire and skin colour was fine, I took a walk. In this room I could watch videos.

They seemed to be educational.

...or play pinball...

...or get a drink at the bar.

I could, however, play CitzTris.

As you might have guessed, it's kind of like Tetris.

This was not another person, but some kind of guard who wouldn't let me into the press room.

There was also a hallway with pictures of former EU leaders.

I read about some.

Here's the cafeteria.

Another bar I can't drink at. BUT - that is another person!

His name is Craig.

Generally I couldn't find anyone to talk to.

I couldn't enter this door.

Here's the map of the places I could go.

And these marbles show the skills I have gained (or would have gained, had I played longer).

Ultimately, it was a lonely place, as evidenced by my contact book.

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