This week, Tim Hwang and friends launched “The Power Broker” game design competition.

The challenge is to build a game based on the life and works of Robert Moses - the urban planner responsible for much of the highways, parks, and bridges in and around NYC. Moses is known for enabling great feats of engineering and architecture while also enforcing harsh policies that discriminated against minorities and poor people. He’s also known for incredible political manipulations that led him to be in charge of myriad committees and commissions that gave him unprecedented power to reshape New York.

This contest hits both my game design and infrastructure interests so I’ll definitely be participating. I’m just starting to explore different ideas but I’m sure I’ll be posting progress on the blog. Here are some initial thoughts, some serious and some not:

  • A game where players compete to control / influence the greatest number (or most powerful) of a large number of committees.
  • A game featuring a giant Robot Robert Moses (with bridges for arms) battling a swarm of neighbor hood watch groups organized by Jane Jacobs.
  • An asymmetric game where one player is Robert Moses trying to force through infrastructure and the other player(s) are trying to effectively organize to block him from destroying their neighborhoods
  • A game played in the real world where players have to interface with actual local government processes. Eg: first player to get a street in their town / city renamed wins.