New Video Game Offers Amusing Commentary on Gentrification in SoCal

Gentrification is no longer an issue limited to action summits and local zoning meetings. Urban renewal and displacement have become increasingly pervasive topics in pop culture as well.

First came the television show “Vida” which chronicles gentrification in Boyle Heights. Now, a videogame called “Donut County” is shedding the spotlight on urban erasure in a pretty amusing way.

Tech magazine Wired describes Donut County as “a loose satire about gentrification, the gig economy, and raccoons being jerks.”

They really are, by the way.

The game works like this: Somebody, somewhere in Donut County orders a donut on a fancy new app. You, as the proprietor of the donut shop, send them a donut hole—but not the kind they were asking for. What follows is a short, ingenious puzzle centered on finding out precisely how best to expand your hole (by feeding it, naturally) in order to consume everything you see. Who would have thought ordering donuts could be so dangerous?

But the hole is a lot more than a hole, as the Los Angeles Times points out. It’s more of an “urban eraser.”

Slowly and casually, the hole absorbs cutesy manifestations of Southern California. Whether it’s thinly veiled takes on Echo Park or Joshua Tree, the hole shows no remorse.

Where have we seen that before?

Creator Ben Esposito says he was inspired to make the game after moving to Los Angeles from New York.

“It takes place in some version of Los Angeles,” Esposito says. “But I wanted it to have more of a slice of Southern California than just L.A. — that's why the game starts out in the Mojave Desert and then each level moves closer to the center of L.A., which is obviously very nebulous because there is no real center. But it does end at the Griffith Observatory, like all good L.A. stories.”

Check out a sneak peek here



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