Welcome To Garfield,

The Garfield neighborhood of Phoenix is like many older urban communities across the country. After years of struggling to keep crime at bay and vintage homes in good repair, the community is facing what is perhaps its greatest challenge ever: discovery by younger and, often, wealthier people who like the idea of living in a neighborhood that is close the cultural wonderland of a major city’s core. The authentic bungalows, Spanish colonials and pyramid cottages are like catnip to people looking for a bargain and flippers looking to make a killing -- as well as a balm for the people who have called this slice of Phoenix home for so long.

This project was created in two weeks by a team of 18 high school students from throughout Arizona who used unique ways of telling the story of Garfield and, by extension, the story of other close-in neighborhoods undergoing tremendous change. Through an audio documentary, they captured the voices of oldtimers and newcomers; the city officials who helped fight crime in the bad old days; the business owners and architects who are reimagining the community’s future, and the people who are being displaced. Through “virtual field trips,” they used 360 video and high-resolution photos to capture the community as it is today. The game design team crafted a video game that lets players walk in the shoes of people being affected by gentrification. An interactive graphic novel uses animation and sound to tell Garfield’s long and storied history.

Assisted by two Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication majors and an ASU computer science major, the students quickly got up to speed using a variety of 360 cameras, sophisticated video editing software, audio equipment, and motion book technology. The games team stretched beyond the familiar FPS game genre to create a nuanced game about the real world.

Play the game, listen to the voices, watch the immersive videos and travel back in time through the motion book and learn what is happening in Garfield and countless communities across the country.

--Retha Hill