Shaping the Future of Chinatown with a Game

In a bid to drum up community involvement among residents of Boston’s Chinatown, local leaders commissioned the development of a videogame.

Participatory Chinatown was developed by project partner Muzzy Lane Software, in conjunction with the Asian Community Development Corporation (ACDC), Emerson College’s New Media program, and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC). Funding was provided by a grant from the MacArthur Foundation‘s Digital Media and Learning Competition.

A description of the game via the MAPC:

In Participatory Chinatown, community members complete “quests” as one of the game’s virtual residents, allowing them to walk the neighborhood streets in someone else’s shoes. There’s Hong, a recent immigrant seeking an apartment for his family; and Karen, a fourth-grade student searching the neighborhood for after-school activities. No matter which avatar they choose, game users will experience the multifaceted identities of Chinatown residents.

The game is available in both English and Chinese. It’s promised that in-game comments and decisions will be shared with “real-life decision makers.”

Holly St. Clair, Director of Data Services for the MAPC, on the game’s goal, “Our hope is that when people have a collective experience through the video game, and then talk about it, they’ll gain a better understanding of the complexities of Chinatown, and then they can plan together for the future of their area.”

The game was unveiled to the community last night and should go live online shortly.

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