Gentrification Battlefield

Designer | Artist Jeroen Beekmans, Golfstromen
Year 2010

In this video game trailer, longtime inhabitants of a neighborhood fight for possession against advancing hipsters and yuppies. The game takes place in Amsterdam-Noord, a real-life neighborhood that has become a symbolic stage for class and social conflict in the Netherlands, with artists and cutting-edge institutions existing alongside a sizable immigrant community. The neighborhood has Amsterdam’s highest unemployment rate and highest percentage of right-wing voters. Jeroen Beekmans, one of the game’s designers, notes that urban redevelopment in the area has led to “garages and dancing schools losing terrain to creative start-ups with molded concrete floors and apple-green chairs.” In Gentrification Battlefield, which has the retro aesthetic of a first-generation PlayStation game, you can either be Timo, a hipster driving a Volkswagen van, or Sjaan, an elderly resident threatened with eviction; the neighborhood battlefield is rendered complete with key landmarks. By presenting the process of gentrification as a real battle, the game provides insight into the political and social complexities of the issue. Golfstromen is planning to turn the concept into a real game.