Game Design for Citizen Science, Solving the Gentrification Problem in NYC

Design issue

With gentrification people are unable to afford houses as newer people move into the New York neighbourhoods, the prices rise up and the people living previously cannot afford houses. Here is the first low fidelity prototype of the game.

The idea of this game – Citizens validate the rent prices set by the owners for all neighborhoods in Brooklyn. The data from validations can be sent to authorities to set rent control for each neighborhood depending on the amenities they provide

Game Play

Two personas

  • Owner
  • Renter

Each player can be both a renter and owner

 What each user gets at the start of the game

  • 5000 points
  • One house to customize with those points

 Power of owner

  • The owner can customize features in the house according to the points they have, with each feature they add, points are deducted
  • They can set the price

Power of renter

  • Can accept or reject prices or rent place
  • If they rent a place, the value in dollars is deducted from their account is same as the value of the house example a player rents a $3000 house, 3000 game points are deducted
  • The longer the stay in a house they get points – the game is time based and once they have certain amount of points they can offer to buy the house (futuristic goal, haven’t prototyped for this)

 Features that an owner can add to the house

  • Room – 2500 Game points
  • Bath – 1500 Game points
  • Kitchen – 500 Game points
  • Terrace – 6000 Game points
  • Washer and Dryer – 500 Game points
  • Parking – 500 Game points
  • Dishwasher – 500 Game points
  • Microwave – 300 Game points

Setting price

  • Once the owner has added amenities, the house is in market for rent
  • The player is suggested three prices – one close to what the neighborhood has currently for those features, one lower than that price and third more than that price, the prices are set randomly using an algorithm
  • The user can also customize the price, but there is an upper limit to it


 Level 1 

  • If someone rents an owners’ place, they get 10000 game points
  • For each Player approving their rent, they get 1000 game points
  • For each player rejecting your rent, 500 points will be deducted
  • To get to level 2 player needs 50000 game points

Each level can further be classified

 Game Rules

  • If a house is not rented by anyone for a day, player will be prompted to reduce its price and 50 points will be deducted for each day the house is not rented
  • If a player rents a house for one day, they get 500 points
  • If house is rented by one player no other player can rent it
  • User names will be randomized, since no user is asked to set name or create profile
  • Houses will be numbered according to the time they are bought, example first house will be referred to as House 1 (later on by building name and apartment numbers)


  • There is a notification icon on each screen
  • Each user gets a notification when their house rent is approved, rejected or their place is rented out
  • User get a notification when another user who rented their house offer to buy the house

Data Points required

  • Number of neighborhoods in Brooklyn
  • Number of buildings in each in neighborhood
  • Number of houses in each building
  • Rent of each house – the suggested rent of each of these houses will be approximately close to what the real prices are, a price lower than that and price above that. Fourth price user can set on their own

Data Being collected for citizen science – the rent approved or rejected

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