by Yaxuan Liu (MArch I ’21)
Over the past decade, the revival of downtown Los Angeles has pushed Chinatown’s longtime affordability problem into a full-blown crisis. Chinatown’s prime location has attracted many groups of people from different backgrounds with conflicting interests—developers, low-income families, artists, young professionals, and more. For these groups, battles over space are almost daily occurrences because of their various visions for Chinatown’s future. To have a chance of resolving the affordability crisis, we must understand the complex context and stakeholders in these battles. My game Dynasty does exactly that.
A crossover between the Chinese game Go and the American game Monopoly, Dynasty gamifies the fights over space among four different groups. Driven by fortunes and functions comprised of policies and events that help or burden each group, the game helps players understand the motivations and struggles of the groups they represent. Players buy properties and receive profits from them while attacking each other’s properties and defending their own. This process simulates the battles in Chinatown through fun and vibrant visual representations emblematic of the neighborhood. As the game comes to an end, the new dynasty of Chinatown shaped by all the players emerges.