Urban Tensions Hackathon at Northeastern

This past weekend I attended the Urban Tensions Hackathon at Northeastern University the goal of which was to use urban data to tell the story of conflict in Boston. The event started with a round of lighting talks. Christine Dixon of Project Hope discussed getting Boston public housing data from the courts and Ben Green who works for the City of Boston discussed the Analyze Boston data portal that launched last week.

With that inspiration, we were let lose to form groups and do our own data analysis. My group members Elle Williams, Rowan Walrath and Paxtyn Merten, worked with Twine  – an interactive, non-linear storytelling tool – to create an interactive game called Broken Bootstraps designed to build empathy for people being evicted from their homes. Elle got the idea from Depression Quest, a similar empathy building game, also built with Twine, in which user played a character with depression and had to make a series of life choices, which were affected by their depression.

What we made in four hours is very much a draft. There were a lot of things we wanted to include but did not have time to fully research, including public v. subsidized housing and the affect on race on the eviction process. That being said I was very impressed with what we were able to accomplish from idea conception to completion in such a short time. (And other’s seemed to agree since we won 4th place at the hackathon!)

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