Posts tagged with "game":

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This SimCity-like game warns against unbridled development and gentrification

If the board game Monopoly didn't warn its players of the evils of capitalism enough (as it originally intended to do), then Nova Alea certainly tries harder. Developed by Pittsburg-based game designer and teacher Paolo Pedercini, Nova Alea is a simple yet informative game that strives to instruct its players about the effects of boom and bust culture in relation to the housing market.

In the game, users are required to buy property when prices are low and sell just before the "bubble bursts." Set on a rotating square grid, various forms rise as their value grows, only to to disappear when the market shifts. On the surface, the aim of the game is to accrue as much profit as possible through buying and selling at the right times. However, shortly after this brief introductory period of the game's basic principles, players are made aware of the consequences of their profiteering actions.

Once a resident of Brooklyn and now living in the up-and-coming Garfied area of Pittsburg, Pedercini is well versed in the effects of runaway housing markets. In fact, it was his experience that was the source of Nova Alea's inspiration. Pedercini also wanted to offer something different compared to the likes of SimCity, giving the chance for players to deal with the social implications of unrestricted development while also providing a lens to see how contemporary cities and districts are developing and urbanizing. It is cast in a similar vein to the likes of other recent games like Block'hood, where players are faced with the inconvenient negative effects of what they choose to build.

"Impossible prices drove old residents away and drained the ones who couldn't leave," a voice says, speaking over the background music as the game continues. "Neighborhoods that made Nova Alea unique were replaced with dull repositories of wealth." Now the theme of gentrification has been established, the voice goes on to implicitly introduce hipsters into the fray. "But in the craters left by the cyclical crisis, the Weird Folk settled." Denoted as green pulsating forms that attract "animal spirits," even the Weird Folk have to leave too, "displaced by the revitalization that they themselves started." Now, however, Nova Alea's habitats and habits have been reshaped, "making Nova Alea unrecognizable to its residents."

The game's narrator adds another dimension when it announces that a resident uprising has forced developers (i.e. you) to slow down. Later, price-controlled properties are introduced, meaning lower profit margins for property moguls such as yourself. As the games comes to a close the narrator proclaims that the Nova Alea has become a "city against its inhabitants. A place made and unmade by money where the delusion of wealth turned everyone into unwelcome strangers."

Nova Alea is available to download for free on Mac, PC and Linux through the developer's website here.

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Design a virtual ecological urban block with Block’hood

No, Block'hood isn't an edgy underground LEGO gang, it's actually a neighborhood-building simulator that encourages experimental cityscapes and sustainable and resourceful architecture. Developed and designed by Gentaro Makinoda and Jose Sanchez, players must prioritize their focus on the environment and their creation's impact. Creations must be able to work interdependently alongside surrounding neighborhoods, for if they fail, when a design begins to fall behind in resources available, environments, buildings, and the neighborhood become susceptible to decay and ultimately failure. Users have access to more than eighty building blocks which they can use to develop structures that harvest the sun and wind to create a sustainable environment. Once built, the buildings come to life and the architect's buildings are put to the test to see if they can withstand the pressures of what the simulator's engine throws at it. Players need to avoid the decay of their city block by making sure each unit doesn’t run out of “Resources." Each block therefore has "inputs" and "outputs" and these needn't be learned, as the user is hopefully already aware that a tree needs water to output oxygen and shops need customers to make money. From this a productive network can blossom provided users harness the environment, maximize outputs, generate resources, and avoid decay. A player's little city block quickly and rather peculiarly becomes something that one can easily become attached too. As life manifests within and users add and take away elements, the block and its habitat become synonymous. Together they must work as one, making clever use of resources in a bid to fight the decline which will plunge your creation that you probably (definitely) spent too much time on, into doom. The small victories, however, for when you do implement an innovative combo are highly rewarding: a user's planning intellect triumphs and one is lulled into dreams of doing a Le Corbusier and starting Paris all over again... Throughout the game, (or "simulation" as some  may prefer to call it) players future planners are asked to "envision their neighborhood," being reminded that "there are no boundaries of what you can create." Dreams of being a planner don't appear too far-fetched either, as Block'hood was featured in the 'My Urban Playground' documentary by Luckyday, showcasing how "Block'hood can be used to design the cities of tomorrow."     Block'hood is now available to download on STEAM.
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This online game gives you the chance to deface Corbu’s iconic Villa Savoye

Modernism made you mad? One remedy might be smashing your Lego model of Villa Savoye into tiny pieces. If you don't have such a model handy, there's now a virtual solution to defacing Corbu with an online game called Le Petit Architecte. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6nG2tOD7Ts0 Creating an “absolute architectural masterpiece” is no mean feat, but that is what players of Le Petit Architecte are tasked with achieving. In the game, you play as an intern attempting to "improve" Le Corbusier's design for the Villa Savoye, situated just East of Paris in real life. The game comes at just over 50 years after Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris' (Le Corbusier's) death which has meant that copyright in the majority of European countries (but not the U.S.) covering his work is no longer valid. Theo Triantafyllidis, a student at UCLA was one of the first to take full advantage of this. Naturally, he came to the conclusion that the first thing anyone would want to do to the Villa Savoye, if given the opportunity, would be to chuck a seemingly endless amount of objects at the house. Each object, of course, has its own sound effect which bears no relevance to its purpose size or shape or life form. An equally odd (and also perfectly befitting) soundtrack accompanies the game. The game was showcased at the #Decorbuziers exhibition in Athens, Greece late last year (on the 50th anniversary of Corbusier's death). Allison Meier at Hyperallergic succinctly stated: "Le Petit Architecte is a fairly simple game — create chaos in the face of modernist serenity. Yet it’s an enjoyably absurd diversion, and provides some digital retribution perhaps for those of us who still cringe over Le Corbusier’s mural defacement of Eileen Gray’s E.1027."