Image: Janette Kim/Urban Works Agency.

Image: Janette Kim/Urban Works Agency.


Faculty Research  
Date: Spring 2017  
Principal Investigator: Janette Kim

Bartertown imagines a world without money to test how social networks can be reshaped by an economy of favors and resource-sharing. Players conduct activities throughout Bartertown while adapting to chance events like floods, fires, or even a new romance.

Creators and Users. Bartertown was commissioned by the Bay Area Conservation and Development Commission Adapt to Rising Tides program via a grant to Urban Works Agency. BCDC is using the game as a public engagement tool in a Caltrans Regional Planning Grant awarded to Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), BCDC, Caltrans District 4, and Bay Area Regional Collaborative (BARC). Served as Principal Investigator and Sole Author, with Research/Design Assistants Jen Tai and Clare Hacko.

Bartertown, Flat Version. Bartertown is also available in a flat, printable version. If you are interested in gaining access to the game and want some tips on how to play, feel free to contact us at janettekim at

Bartertown, Alternate Resources Version. For the YBCA exhibition, we created a series of small, sculptural objects to propose alternate pieces for the Bartertown game. New player identities include a mountain lion, a worker character, a player who can carry another on piggy-back, and another who carries his house around with him when he’s evicted. New board game parts include parts that help to ‘delaminate’ a building into constituent parts and allow for new connections and collective spaces to emerge—these include an overarching roof structure and an infrastructural armature dotted with power and water infrastructural connections. Lastly, new ‘Anterooms’ or ‘Plug-in’ structures including a bread oven, a communal bedroom, a public bathroom, and a circus-inspired playground allow players to modify the board game for shared uses.