What are the forces behind the transformation of American cities in the 21st Century? How can we attract reinvestment without displacing people and the economic and racial diversity that gives a city like New York its character? Would it be possible for newer and older residents of gentrifying neighborhoods to come together and form a common vision for their communities? And how can the past help us make sense of the kinds of neighborhood change New Yorkers are witnessing today?
Brooklyn: The Game will allow people to explore these questions by using their smartphones to tour Downtown Brooklyn, one of New York City’s most rapidly changing neighborhoods. The game turns the city into an interactive learning space while engaging a wide variety of constituencies in virtual and real world conversations about development policy and projects.
Players start by downloading the app and picking a tour such as Brooklyn Undergrounds: From Hip Hop to Abolitionism, A Great Bargain: Shopping Then and Now, or Designing Downtowns: Architecture an Urban Planning. The game’s augmented reality feature allows them to juxtapose the past, present, and future of individual sites by bringing together an array of historic and contemporary materials including images, photographs, film footage, and interview clips. Players travel through layers of time while standing in the actual built environment, giving them a fresh and nuanced perspective on neighborhood change.
The game is also fun and competitive. By answering questions and finding clues, players receive discounts at local businesses, discover “geotags” on buildings that provide information about developer subsidies and public benefit, and are rewarded for sharing their opinions through online social networks, including Facebook and Twitter.
Brooklyn: The Game is a companion project to the feature documentary My Brooklyn. Together, these products are parts of a single package that will provide audiences with much-needed tools for understanding issues of race, class, and neighborhood change in historical context.