Dot’s Home, a narrative-driven video game created with help from NLIHC, received the Game of the Year Award at the Games for Change Festival’s awards ceremony in New York City on July 8. Dot’s Home competed with 17 other finalists selected from more than 400 games submitted this year. The game also won the Best Narrative Game award and was nominated for awards in the Best Civic Game and Most Significant Impact categories.
“We’re honored that this game has received such a prestigious award,” said Renee Willis, a member of the Dot’s Home team and senior vice president for racial equity, diversity and inclusion at NLIHC. “I’m overjoyed that thousands of young people will learn about the challenges that many American families face acquiring the stability, peace, and security that a home provides.”
Dot’s Home follows a young Black woman in Detroit living in her grandmother’s beloved home as she travels through time to relive key moments in her family’s history when race, place, and home collided, forcing difficult decisions. Dot’s Home inserts players into scenarios in which they must make choices about how and where to live in the midst of redlining, urban renewal, and gentrification. By doing so, the game invites players to grapple with a fundamental question: “How did your family end up where it is today, and how much choice did it have in that journey?”
The release of Dot’s Home comes at a time when the U.S. is reckoning with a racist legacy of inequality in housing and land that continues to impact communities of color, leaving them vulnerable to displacement and predatory real estate practices. “Our goal is to use the game to spark robust and courageous conversations about this country’s fraught history with racialized housing and land policy, while also illuminating our role in creating a vision of a just and equitable future that can become reality,” said Luisa Dantas, project director of Rise-Home Stories Project, which developed the game.
Dot’s Home was created by housing justice organizers with the Rise-Home Stories Project, as well as an independent and award-winning BIPOC team including developers Weathered Sweater (Boatventure, SK8R G8R) and Neil Jones (Never Yield), artist Sanford Greene (Bitter Root), lead game writer Evan Narcisse (Rise of the Black Panther, Marvel’s Spider-man: Miles Morales), and composer Pumashock.
The game won a 2020 Unity for Humanity Grant and was featured at Indiecade 2021, as well as the Game Developers of Color Expo 2021, SXSW, and Gradient Convergence.
Games for Change empowers game creators and innovators to drive real-world change, using games and immersive media that help people to learn, improve their communities, and contribute to making the world a better place. Games for Change supports a global community of game developers working to use games to tackle real-world challenges, from humanitarian conflicts to climate change and education.
Dot’s Home is intended to open up new spaces within gaming for more inclusive representation. In an industry dominated by white males, the game was produced by people of color for a target audience of young BIPOC people who are impacted by housing inequality and who can see themselves in the game’s characters and stories.
“In Dot’s Home, we’re telling the story most young people of color already know: the American housing system wasn’t created to benefit us,” said Christina Rosales, a member of the Dot’s Home team and housing and land justice director at PowerSwitch Action. “No other medium could have conveyed this quite like a game could. We play games and we feel like if we just make the right choices, we can win the game. People have told us that about housing and wealth, but as we’ve grown up in a foreclosure crisis and recession, and now a pandemic, we know that’s not true.”
Dot’s Home is one of five Rise-Home projects specifically designed to address the intersection of race, housing, and land justice. Each of these projects, including a podcast, a children’s book, and a web series, was co-created by community organizers and artists or producers of color.
The game is available for free on PC, Mac, and mobile devices. To view the trailer and download Dot’s Home, visit: www.risehomestories.com/dots-home/