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The Housing Crisis: Now in a Board Game!

For those who just don't get enough of the planning process in their daily lives, there's a new game being offered on Kickstarter: Bay Area Regional Planner.


The game is being offered by Alfred Twu, a self-described artist, designer and activist in Berkeley, who created the game as an educational tool on the housing crisis. Bisnow chatted with Alfred about his game, which has a couple of more days to go in its fundraising on Kickstarter, but is already funded well beyond its $500 goal with about 160 backers and more than $9,800 pledged.

Players get to decide where housing is built and look at how it affects other policy goals, including transit, open space and affordable housing. Alfred is serious about getting the game as true to life as possible with numbers from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Association of Bay Area Governments' Bay Area Census.

Alfred tells us housing is a regional issue with regional solutions, which is something that the game seeks to convey to players.


While he's yet to have a planner who does this sort of thing for a day job try the game, Alfred tells us he's circulated the game and found that people take a couple of approaches.

Alfred says they tend to start out confrontational, with everyone at the table having their own goals for where they want development. Soon, though, players start to find common ground on where they can upzone for new housing, he says.

One of the most challenging things for players is when there's an economic bubble that keeps them from meeting all of the housing demand out there (definitely sounds like what's going on in San Francisco and Silicon Valley these days).

Players range from those who are unfamiliar with zoning and politics (and the game provides a great way to learn if you can handle the headache of a housing crisis) to housing activists and urban planners, Alfred says. This is Alfred's third game. The others are California Water Crisis and the US High Speed Rail Game.