Take From the Poor and Give to the Rich in Satirical Game “Gentrification Tycoon”

Everyone wants to be Robin Hood–take from the rich, give to the poor. No one wants to be King John or the Sheriff of Nottingham, but that’s exactly the position Gentrification Tycoon puts you in.

The game has nothing to do with Robin Hood, but the opening screen deliberately invokes and reverses it. Buy up hovels, family houses, and empty lots to turn them into beautiful luxury apartments, art galleries, and whatever else might attract the wealthy and pampered. If you have to evict a few people or drive them out of the neighborhood in the process, well…life’s tough, can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs, etc. Sounds real good, so long as you’re not the egg.

As Spike Lee famously pointed out, gentrification is bad. Neighborhoods are whitewashed and suburbanized, local goodies are “discovered” by newcomers, and actual locals are pushed out to the fringes. Gentrification Tycoon might put you in the shoes of an up-and-coming real estate mogul, but it doesn’t bother making you sympathetic. At best, the game points out that even the wealthy gentrifiers are beholden to banks, raising rents just to keep up with the crippling debt that seems to appear around every corner of the game, but that might be reading too much into it. At its heart Gentrification Tycoon is a short, cleverly done, and extremely sarcastic look at the process of gentrification.

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