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New Game Puts the Bay Area Housing Crisis in Your Hands

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A new board game offered via Kickstarter allows players to try their hand at solving the community's urban planning problems. The game has a rather dry title—Bay Area Regional Planner—but it promises fun while players navigate the very real-world problems of where to build housing, how to lower rents, keeping commutes manageable, and preserving open space. Perhaps the trickiest part of the game is this: Players have to agree on policies. As the Kickstarter pitch cheerily states: "...Get ready to compromise and make coalitions!"

The game is designed by Alfred Twu, a Berkeley resident who describes himself as "an artist, designer, and activist." Twu is also behind the rather wonkish-sounding games California Water Crisis and US High Speed Rail Game.

On his Kickstarter page, he writes: "The San Francisco Bay Area faces a housing crisis. With far more people wanting to live here than there are homes, rents have risen to record heights. However, building new housing isn't easy, with concerns about traffic, views, gentrification, and open space, to name just a few. Still, the problem can be solved, though not by San Francisco alone. You'll have to plan and build regionally." He then explains that in each round of the game, players will be given policy goals to fulfill and players must agree where to build. (Yes, this is a game with a point of view.)

The game attempts to be as accurate as possible, relying on numbers from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Association of Bay Area Governments' Bay Area Census for data about commute times and numbers of housing units.

Does anyone want to try their hand at these headache-including problems? Apparently so, as eight people have pledged $405 toward a $500 goal (for $40 you get a copy of the game, if you pony up $150-$400 you get your name on the box).

The game is for between two and 12 players and takes between 60 and 120 minutes to play. If only these kinds of intractable problems could be settled so quickly in real life.

Let the games begin.

· Kickstarter [Official Site]