NYC Teachers Star in Mobile Phone Game

A new game, The Teachers of New York City, turns typical New York City public school teachers into superheroes and heroines who can advance from one level to the next by opening closed schools and cleaning out Tweed Courthouse, the headquarters of the city’s Department of Education, writes Anna M. Phillips at the New York Times.

Available on iPhones and iPads, the game originated in Philadelphia, where most of its founders live, and has now been adapted to New York City’s politics and geography.

“We wanted to make heroes, and we thought of teachers,” said Rand Lu, 31, one of the game’s developers.

“With all the things going on with teachers, the layoffs, the budget cuts — and it’s not just in New York, it’s all around America — we figured that if we did a game it might get people’s attention,” he said.

The New York City game is pretty straightforward, writes Phillips. Public schools are shuttered, hung with bright red signs that read “Closed,” and are blocked by rocks, wood and other debris the teachers must remove.

Similarities to Angry Birds, the popular mobile game, have been drawn. But Lu said that if it generates enough interest, he plans to expand it into a fuller story called, The Rise of the Bad Teacher.

In the proposed longer game, a formerly upstanding New York City teacher is driven crazy by constant budget cuts. Using his knowledge of computer programming, he hacks into the city’s data systems, changing schools’ grades on the annual progress reports and generally wreaking havoc.

His actions lead other teachers to join forces with the mayor and schools chancellor, who bear a striking resemblance to Michael R. Bloomberg and Dennis M. Walcott.

Despite the satirical nature, Mr. Lu said that he and the other developers who worked on the game are not taking sides in the fight over how schools should be improved, but they did find inspiration in the details of those battles.

The New York City game features scenes in the Tweed Courthouse, school hallways and the city’s infamous rubber rooms, where teachers charged with incompetence or misconduct used to wait for their cases to be heard.

Though the Philadelphia game costs $1.99, Mr. Lu is testing the New York City market and now offering the game for free.