In the House of Dot, your choice is often an illusion.

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within one hour, passage dot house completed, but the impact of your choices will remain with you long after the credits end. Project Rise-Home Stories created something impossible in the gaming industry: a complete narrative video game made by people of color, for people of color.

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The game was released in October and is available for free on the Apple App Store, Google Play Store, and Steam. It is one of five projects specifically designed to work at the intersection of race, housing and land equity. dot house has been in the making for several years and offered community organizers and game creatives the opportunity to work together, create something meaningful, and in the process build life-changing relationships.


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According to co-producer Cristina Rosales, previously Texas Housers and now with PowerSwitch actionwho worked with writer Evan Narcissus (who worked on Spiderman: Miles Morales) to create a narrative vision for the game, the goal was to create projects – games and so on – that would be unique and shake up people’s deeply rooted ideas about race and home ownership.

dot house follows Dot, the main character, as she decides how her grandmother buys or sells her house in the Detroit area and what it means for her and her family. The game focuses on the generational impact of housing inequality and how individual choices can affect an entire community.

Rosales was intrigued by the idea of ​​a narrative game, because that’s what she’s drawn to playing – intimate and exciting, like Night in the forest. She wanted it to be “like curling up with a good book,” she says.

The game was developed based on the personal and social experience of the team and solves problems such as red line, predatory lendingas well as poverty all of these issues are inherently racist.

As children, the Rosales family made an important decision to leave an area that had a 50 percent high school graduation rate. The game presents the player with a similar situation.

“What are the consequences of the choices people face that the player can get and understand and make them think about it in their own lives or question their own experience or that of their elders,” she says. There has been a lot of thinking and talking among the developers about these overarching topics like features and promotion rather than staying in the community.

Another structure the game development team wanted to focus on was the illusion of choice, where the game, like reality, doesn’t always take the player’s motivation into account when making decisions. This concept is sometimes frustrating for gamers given that games are such an interactive environment, but in dot housewithout having all the “correct” options in front of him, it was just the right thing.

As with any video game, “someone else designed the system without your input. Someone else made this system for you and you play it, and then whatever result you get is what you get, which is very similar to America’s housing system,” says Rosales.

Louise Dantas, Rise-Home Stories Project Director, spoke about playing at this year’s SXSW in a panel discussing how gaming and gaming technology can be a tool to fight structural inequality. Dantas said that the game’s audience should be blacks and browns because they are most affected by housing inequality.

Given this intended audience, Dantas realized that these players were starting the game knowing that the system was rigged and that they were playing with a limited and difficult set of options. These descriptive decisions reflect existing systemic inequalities that limit access to safe and affordable housing for all but the wealthiest people in many communities. Aside from this limited choice, players need to think about how their choice will affect their neighborhood rather than just focusing on Dot and her family’s needs.

“There is also a direct rebuke to this idea of ​​this kind of toxic meritocracy,” says Dantas. “This individualistic idea that it’s all about your personal responsibility and your personal choice. And if you just made the right choice, x, y, and z would happen.” In the game, as in real life, sometimes you can do things “right” and the community is no better because there are so many factors outside of your control or influence.

Rosales describes dot house as a “value-based game”.

Courtesy of Rise-Home Stories

“We wanted people to understand that our future, our neighborhood, our community, and all of our lives, are intertwined,” she says. “And if we want to think of housing as a common good, as a public good, we have to get rid of this individualistic thinking.”

Several “good, well-meaning white people” told Rosales that it would be very difficult to create a game with only people of color, and that an independent studio should perhaps be brought in. However, the team was confident in their vision.

Dantas says that when artists and lawyers worked and shared power in the creative process, they were able to take seemingly dry topics like housing policy and financial inequality and create “beautiful and really meaningful, impactful stories with real consciousness behind them.” “. about what they are trying to achieve.”

“For this to happen, it takes work, energy and a commitment to these values,” adds Rosales.

As for how the game has been received since its launch in 2021? Dantas says that the reaction was pleasant and confirms that their team has been on the right track all along.

“We had quite a few people telling us, ‘I haven’t seen anything like this yet. I have never seen my community, my neighborhood and my people portrayed in this way, which is really amazing.”

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