2021 Winner: Guerrilla Gardener

Project Information
Guerrilla Gardener
Kresge 1
I made this Bitsy game for my final project in Kresge 1 where we were assigned to do a “creative intervention” surrounding the topics power and representation. I am a Plant Sciences major, so I am most enthusiastic about soil health, regenerative farming, worms, root anatomy, forest conservation--all topics that on surface level do not seem relevant to the social justice theme of the course. However, it is vital as someone like me who is interested in agriculture to acknowledge environmental racism and food injustice because those are issues I can help to remedy in my work. With my game, Guerrilla Gardener, I wanted to connect the dots between hobby gardening and food injustice and promote direct action against food apartheid.
As a free mobile or desktop game, Bitsy is an accessible medium for someone who wants to play a cute game while learning about food injustice in the US. In the game, you are a resident who notices that your neighborhood is lacking access to healthy produce, so you decide to pick up a shovel and do something about it! While growing your garden, you learn facts about the disproportionate amount of non-white farmers in the US, the high rates of food insecurity and the importance of green spaces.
To create this game, first I did research about urban gardeners around the country and the way food apartheid/food deserts increase rates of hunger. After that, I played a whole bunch of Bitsy games to learn how to tell stories through the medium. I was nervous to make a game because this was my first time, but throughout Kresge 1 we were assigned games to play as homework and I found they were a really powerful way to send important messages. I was inspired by You Are Jeff Bezos, Hair Nah, Ye or Nay, and SweetXHeart because they combined pleasant aesthetics and fun game play with important cultural and social meaning. I hand-drew storboards for my game, then started creating pixel art with the free open-source Bitsy software. I did some coding to finalize the game, like adding music, then I published it online. An important part of this project for me was to really be a learning moment for players, so I added a slide of resources at the end of the game and many links in the description. I wanted Guerrilla Gardener to be an entry point where players could get a basic understanding of food apartheid, then do more readings and hopefully get involved with direct action. I was surprised and excited to receive so many positive comments on my game. Guerrilla Gardener has had over 300 plays and 700 views since December 2020. Throughout this process, I learned more about an issue very important to me and I learned the ins and outs of a new medium that I am excited to continue working with.
  • Kirra Amanda Lilith Mccoll (Kresge)