SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

January 29, 2013

'What's The Point?'

Video game, planning project focused on Salem neighborhood


The Salem News

---- — SALEM — More than 100 youths crowded into the Orange Leaf frozen yogurt shop on Lafayette Street on Friday for the launch of a video game designed to gather feedback and ideas for the city’s Point neighborhood.

City planners have collaborated on the video game project to involve a demographic that isn’t typically reached through traditional means, such as neighborhood meetings.

VIEW THE SLIDESHOW

The “What’s The Point?” game project went live yesterday and will remain online for three weeks.

The social media-based game has players complete challenges, answer trivia questions and collect coins to pledge to local causes. Along the way, players interact and post messages and ideas for their neighborhood.

At the finish, the causes and organizations that were pledged the most coins through the game can earn real-life donations.

It’s one piece of a larger community planning project focused on The Point, Salem’s largely low-income, Latino neighborhood.

Planners have been meeting with focus groups around The Point to collect ideas. This feedback, along with the input from the video game, will be used to create vision and action plans for The Point.

The plans will steer the city’s investments in the neighborhood, going forward, from infrastructure, housing and parks to programming, said Tom Daniel, Salem’s economic development manager.

Funded by a federal grant, the project is a collaboration between the city, the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, the North Shore Community Development Coalition and Emerson College, which designed the video game.

Emerson’s Engagement Game Lab has also designed games for neighborhoods in Boston, Philadelphia and Detroit.

Salem’s Point neighborhood, located south of the downtown, comprises approximately 144 acres and 4,100 people, according to MAPC.

“What’s The Point?”

— Bethany Bray