NYC Haunts is a STEM-based learning program in which youth designers create a mobile, geo-locative alternate reality game that explores local history and contemporary issues facing a particular NYC neighborhood. Founded by Global Kids, Inc. and the New York Public Library in 2011, NYC Haunts has since been iterated upon by Global Kids in collaboration with Hive Learning Network organizations and school-based partners. The curriculum has been tested, refined, and made more nimble over the years as educators and youth participants have created location-based games over various time frames, in new sites and settings, and with different populations of youth and digital platforms.
The youth game designers research and curate content to help players of the game understand the plight of the ghost and explore contemporary issues or a particular moment in neighborhood history. They develop their computational thinking, design thinking, collaboration, storytelling, and communication skills. Throughout the design process, youth play-test their games, give and receive feedback, and refine the narrative arc and back-end coding of the games with peer and adult facilitator support.