Spectrum is a game that illuminates the tens of thousands of homeless families that live in New York City, on the fringes of society, out of sight, and consequently out of mind, for most New Yorkers. 


It designed by Elizabeth Abernethy, Laura Kadamus, Rhea Rakshit and myself for a Games for Impact class at the MFA Design for Social Innovation program at SVA. 

When one thinks about invisibility in the context of gaming, it’s usually considered a superpower: for example, you stumble upon an invisibility cloak and you earn the ability to turn invisible at will. But what if you were always invisible, and being invisible - or becoming visible - was not in your control? Would it still be regarded a superpower?

There are hundreds of thousands of marginalized people around the world who live in the fringes of society, unseen and unheard. We chose to explore this type of involuntary (and frequently unwanted) invisibility through the context of a game on homelessness in New York City. 


Through gameplay based entirely on chance, we emphasize the significant lack of control these families have on their circumstances, and the tremendous roles that randomness and luck play on their futures. We also wanted to underscore how there are many different ways in which to make these families feel recognized, to help them share their stories, improve their circumstances, and feel visibly seen and heard again.


Learn more about the game and ways to help on Spectrum's website.