In the city center of Amsterdam, there is a significant monoculture dominated by souvenir shops, large (fashion) chains, fast food establishments, hotels, and Airbnb rentals. The local residents rarely visit the center anymore, as it has become overwhelmingly focused on catering to visitors from outside the city, including day-trippers and tourists. The massive influx of tourists has significantly diminished the livability of the city.
To address this issue, I have created a board game called MONOCULTUUR, which turns the concept of Monopoly on its head. In this game, the board starts off filled with hotels, Airbnb rentals, and tourist shops, representing the Amsterdam monoculture. The goal is to work together as players to strategically remove these elements from the board, symbolizing the desire to reclaim the city from the overwhelming influence of tourism. By reversing the objective of Monopoly, MONOCULTUUR challenges players to collectively create a more balanced and livable urban environment.
In MONOCULTUUR, I incorporate both “soft data” and “hard data.” The soft data represents my own observations and experiences with tourism during my excursions through the city. I have captured photos of crowded areas and noted aspects of tourist behavior that I find bothersome. Examples include tourists walking on bike paths, beer bikes, intoxicated or high tourists, the excessive number of rolling suitcases, and public urination. These “soft” data points are incorporated into chance cards within the game, adding a humorous twist. For instance, a chance card might say, “You insult tourists with rolling suitcases and receive a fine. Pay €100 into the pot.”
For the “hard data,” I have researched news articles about Amsterdam and tourism from the past year. There is a constant flow of news on this subject, which I accessed through sources like Google News, local news outlets such as AT5 and Het Parool, and even Facebook’s algorithm provided useful articles during my online search for data.
While researching online articles, I focused on reading the headlines as they often encapsulate the essence of the article and were most relevant for my game. I integrated these headlines into the “xxx” cards in the game. Negative headlines are associated with negative actions, while positive headlines correspond to positive actions. For instance, the headline “City grants 1700 permits to tour guides” results in an additional Airbnb on the board, whereas the headline “City of Amsterdam allowed to close tourist cheese shop” allows a tourist shop to be removed from the board.
The primary target audience for my game is the municipal government. My secondary audience consists of critical Amsterdam residents who are tired of tourism-related issues. The game is designed to serve as a conversation piece, using humor and entertainment to engage players in discussions about this problem. For the municipal government, the game aims to motivate them to take more action against mass tourism. For critical Amsterdam residents, it provides a figurative means to reclaim their city.
However, I don’t believe we should solely blame tourists for Amsterdam’s issues. Even before becoming an Amsterdam resident, I enjoyed visiting the city. I believe the turning point lies with our municipal government, which should establish clear guidelines for businesses and organizations like Airbnb and Booking.com to maintain the city’s livability.
The design of the board
The design of MONOCULTUUR incorporates the visual identity of the City of Amsterdam, originally created by Studio Thonik. Every aspect of the game board has been crafted to align with this distinctive style. The choice of typeface was paramount in capturing the essence of the city’s branding, while all illustrations have been adapted to seamlessly integrate with the established visual language. By incorporating the official design elements, MONOCULTUUR not only provides an engaging gaming experience but also pays homage to Amsterdam’s graphic identity.