Technology Brings Bronx Teens Closer to Their Own Neighborhood
7.19.11 | A new game created by New York City teens is designed to connect young people to their community.
In “NYC Haunts” players learn the history of their neighborhood through the lens of citizens who once inhabited the streets, shops and tenements of the Bronx.
They used the popular mobile app SCVNGR, a social location-based gaming platform that takes players back and forth between the physical, online and mobile environments using iPads and smartphones.
The students researched facts about their neighborhood and created riddles for their players about people in the Bronx.
Writing at the Huffington Post, The New York Public Library’s H. Jack Martin explains how the game works:
In the first installment of the game, a detective awakens in the library with no memory. By uncovering clues hidden in a copy of a book by Edgar Allen Poe and deciphering riddles embedded in SCVNGR that take them all over the Bronx—Poe Cottage, a synagogue once important to Poe that’s now a dollar store, and more—the detective begins to learn more about his client and what he/she was hired to do as the game progresses.
Along the way the players come face to face with neighborhood issues such as interfaith tolerance, air quality, and racism, and learn the historical context and climates under which the characters dealt with this issues. At the end of the journey, the players realize that the only way they can win the game is to understand their client’s plights and record a video of what they would do to help them. Then, and only then, their client can rest in peace.
The teens then challenged their peers from the local library to play the game. One teen said before playing the game he had no idea Poe had ever been a resident of New York City, let alone his same neighborhood. Another player said this was his first time using a touch screen for anything other than playing Nintendo. Watch the video above for more.
This is a great example of a public library being used as a community center where kids have the chance to experiment with technology. The New York Public Library (NYPL) has been a leader in this arena and we’ve written about their innovative work as part of the New Youth City Learning Network, the Hackasaurus project, for example. We also covered their recent overnight scavenger hunt designed by Jane McGonigal in connection with NYPL’s centennial celebration. We’ll be on the lookout for more.
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