House of Gossip > Open-source game developed by the Stadtlabor for Multimodal Anthropology

House of Gossip is an open-source downloadable game (developed by the Stadtlabor for Multimodal Anthropology of the HU Berlin) that stages and creates the grounds for reflection on conflicts regarding housing and the different viewpoints in a volatile real estate market.

A first prototype of the game was developed – in collaboration with colleagues at the Zentrum für Kunst und Urbanistik (ZK/U) – in a hackathon together with MA students of the Studienprojekt “The only game in town? Anthropology and the housing markets in Berlin” (2018-2019) at the Institut für Europäische Ethnologie (HU Berlin), and showcased in the “Open Form neu denken” exhibition (organized by Z/KU at the Werkstatt of Haus der Statistik in October 25–27 2019). In the last two years we’ve been working on creating a downloadable and playable version of it.

Image by Vasylysa Shchogoleva

Credits

Game concept (in alphabetical order): Tomás Criado, Ignacio Farías, Lena Heiss, Marie Aline Klinger, Lilian Krischer, Leonie Schipke & Tan Weigand. 

Game art by Vasylysa Shchogoleva

CC BY NC SA 2021 Stadtlabor for Multimodal Anthropology, HU Berlin

Context

Berlin, late 2010s, all across the city real estate is changing hands fast, the market is hot and many are investing, houses are revaluing. As it tends to happen, this situation has at least two different sides:

Scene 1

– “What about this building? Might you have found a good opportunity here?”
– “It indeed looks nice, but have we explored if it’s in good condition?”

– “The architect sent me this report, look, all clear.” – “It certainly looks promising.”
– “It’s time to act fast.”
– “Ok, yes, let’s go for this house!”

Scene 2

– “Hi, how was your day?”
– “Nothing special, yours?”
– “I heard rumours, two neighbours speaking in the corridor: the building is finally going to be bought!” – “Yes, there was a letter in the mail, look”.
– “But… What will happen to us? Will we have to move if they raise the rent?”
– “We have to do something…”
– “But we know nearly no one in the house.”

“When an apartment building is to be sold, every single alarm bell sets off for the residents. In view of the horrendous purchase prices, there is a danger of being displaced by higher rents or even conversion into condominiums.”

Rationale

House of Gossip is  an open-source downloadable game that stages and creates the grounds for reflection on conflicts regarding housing and the different viewpoints in a volatile real estate market. In the game, you will have the opportunity to play either as a resident of the house or as a covert buyer, acting as one of the house’s residents.

In a process where no one can be certain about anything, gossip abounds: In the game you will have to gather information form alliances and find your way to save (as residents) or buy (as the buyer) the house! Think twice about who and when you want to share your information with!

During the course of the game you will repeatedly encounter your neighbours in the stairway to exchange gossip. Your main goal is not just to understand to whom you’re talking to, but also to perform in front of others and form alliances for one of the two competing purposes of the game: Buying or saving the house.

Those who manage to gather the necessary gossips will in the end win the game. Will the house community manage to resist or could the buyer succeed in acquiring the new property?

Download link

The game can be downloaded here.

Uncommoning the city | Hacer la ciudad poco común

Guillermo Fernández-Abascal and Urtzi Grau recently edited the bilingual compilation Coches, humanos y bordillos, aprendiendo a vivir juntos | Learning to Live Together: Cars, Humans, and Kerbs in Solidarity, which has just been published by Bartlebooth. A volume on the conflicts and possibilities of new more or less digital forms of city-making and urban life.

Contribuciones de / Contributions by Ibiye Camp, Brendan Cormier, Noortje Marres, Hamish McIntosh, Simone C. Niquille / Technoflesh, Marina Otero Verzier, Tomás Sánchez Criado, Brenton Alexander Smith, Lara Lesmes + Fredrik Hellberg (Space Popular), Liam Young.

[ES] Viviremos todos juntos, eso es inevitable. Pero la llegada de los vehículos autónomos al entorno urbano plantea otra cuestión urgente: ¿cómo se integrarán estos coches sin conductor en la vida cotidiana? Las industrias tecnológicas y del automóvil que desarrollan estos vehículos también están diseñando el futuro de nuestras ciudades. Sus visiones muestran calles que incorporan tecnologías autónomas y donde los humanos deambulan, despreocupados, por un espacio público donde máquinas automatizadas circulan a alta velocidad. Estas visiones se proyectan en un tiempo lejano, y al hacerlo, ignoran las cuestiones que la llegada de estos vehículos plantean en el futuro inmediato.

En respuesta a tal descuido, este ensayo, y las reflexiones que lo acompañan, exploran los conflictos inminentes asociados a esta tecnología y como estos transformaran nuestras calles, con una hipótesis en mente: el despliegue de la tecnología sin conductor, rápida y disruptiva, no conlleva una solución urbana integrada, más bien plantea preguntas y exige imaginar como responderlas. Este libro identifica algunas, responde a otras y, sobre todo, imagina cómo humanos y maquinas podrán influir en las decisiones sobre el ecosistema urbano, colectivamente.

[EN] We are on the verge of sharing our cities with autonomous vehicles. Recent developments in driverless technologies are having an impact on our urban environment, raising questions about how self-driving vehicles could be integrated into our daily lives. Automotive and technological industries are not only developing the vehicles but also envisioning the future of our cities, a future where streets have seamlessly integrated driverless technologies and humans wander about, unconcerned by the presence of new automated machines circulating at high speeds through public space. These visions skip to a distant time and ignore the issues that these vehicles raise in the immediate future.

In response to such an oversight, this essay and the accompanying meditations explore the conflicts soon to be unleashed by this new technology and the transformation of our streets it will trigger. The current implementations of driverless technology, which are fast and disruptive, do not suggest an eventual integrated urban solution. Yet this book allows us to imagine how humans and cars might collectively influence the urban environment.

In my contribution to the volume I share a provocation on the project of urban unification of ‘smart city’ initiatives: What if rather than trying to contribute to urban unity, contemporary urban planners and designers relearnt, through different techniques and procedures (algorithmic, sensor-based, DIY or otherwise), to be affected by an uncommon city? In other words, the processes whereby cities are treated not as places of homogeneity but of divergence.

Published as Criado, T.S. (2021). Uncommoning the city | Hacer la ciudad poco común. In G. Fernández-Abascal & U. Grau (Eds.), Aprendiendo a vivir juntos: Solidaridad entre humanos, coches y bordillos / Learning to Live Together: Cars, Humans, and Kerbs in Solidarity (pp. 123-130). A Coruña: Bartlebooth | PDF EN & PDF ES