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WAMU made a game about commuting in DC and it’s so stressful

The “Commuter Challenge” takes on what it's like to be a low-income Metro rider.

Hey, Metro. (Photo by Tajha Chappellet-Lanier)

Edward is a parent, he works in a restaurant and he’s got just $200 to spend each week on transportation and childcare. His commute via WMATA every day takes 90 minutes and if he’s late to work three times he risks getting fired.

What’s it like to be Edward?

This is the question a new game developed in partnership by WAMU (D.C.’s NPR station), the American University GameLab and JoLT (a partnership between the AU GameLab and School of Communication) takes on. While SafeTrack might mean that commuting by Metro sucks for us all, it’s another story completely for D.C.’s low-income residents. As Andrew Small wrote in CityLab, “for this crowd, getting to work on time is no game.”

Except that now, with the Commuter Challenge, it is.

Play the game

Navigating the city (and balancing both time and money constraints) gives players of the Commuter Challenge a visceral “walk a mile in another’s shoes” experience. Personally speaking it was insanely stressful to play, and of course that’s the whole idea.

Written by Maggie Farley, a JoLT professional fellow and former Los Angeles Times correspondent, designed and developed by Joyce Rice and beautifully illustrated by Sarah Winifred Searle, the game shows how interactive experiences can be used in the newsroom. We’re here for more games for journalism.

Companies: Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority / American University

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