The effects of housing inequality rarely serve as the launch point for a video game, let alone the specific ways in which marginalized communities are impacted by the ebbs and flows of the real estate market. DOT’s HOME is a video game that seeks to do both — the point and click, narrative-driven game focuses on Dorothea “Dot” Hawkins, a 20-year old who has been whisked back in time to help different generations of her family make important housing decisions throughout the ‘50s, ‘90s, 2010s, and then finally in 2021.
As first reported by Kotaku, DOT’s HOME came together as a result of the Rise-Home Stories Project, an organization composed of BIPOC organizers that includes game designers, writers, activists, and much more. Per the organizations’ website, the mission for the group is to “change our [the] relationship to land, home, and race, by transforming the stories we tell about them.”
At its core, DOT’s HOME wants to illuminate how BIPOC living in this country end up living where they do and what little agency is involved throughout these journeys. And as we all know, the area where you end up growing up has a multitude of cascading effects that all impact development — from education to food access.
Natural format— Evan Narcisse, lead writer for the game, pointed out that video games are a great venue to explore the concept of housing inequality. After all, what is a game but a series of predetermined choices for players to choose from, similar to housing policies being set up and enforced for people to try and navigate through.
“As a player, you might feel like you have the choice to change the course of the future for this family, but ultimately, you don’t. It’s very much a rigged game. You get what you get,” Christiana Rosales, a producer for the game, told Kotaku.
DOT’s HOME is one of five media works from Rise-Home Stories Projects that exposes the impossibility of the American Dream for generations of BIPOC families. The whole mantra of preserving in the face of adversity until a big break comes, doesn’t always work when everyone begins at different places in the rat race.
I would encourage you to read through the full Kotaku piece, to hear more from those involved with the game and how it functions as an educational tool.
DOT’S HOME was released in late-October and is free-to-play on Steam, Itch.io, Google Play, and Apple’s App Store.