People In Love

A game by Pietro Polsinelli and Daniele Giardini

A treatise in game form about building cities that will make people fall in love.
Or The Good, The Bad and The Bureaucrat.


People In Love was born as a political puzzle game made by Pietro Polsinelli and myself (Daniele Giardini), where your goal was to build cities for the people instead of cities for the corporations.

It wanted to be fun, but also to show how the much talked about smart cities are not designed to improve people's lives at all, even if their deceitful narrative would like to state the contrary.

Sadly, we abandoned the project and moved on to other things. But here's a selection of the art I made for it, and you can read Pietro's take of it down below.


Tileset evolution

First sketch of tiles and buildings

Trying out colors, and more buildings

Final colors and tiles


The evil bastards

The people


Posters and stuff

A bunch of posters I made for every occasion, and in some cases also to troll Pietro.

A random thing

When Pietro went to Amsterdam

We really liked these characters (there's also Pietro's sons hidden in there)

And here's another bunch of posters against smart cities. Because fuck smart cities.

Pietro's Story

People In Love's first game idea came to my mind walking around Rome a warm spring evening. I reached a wide street with Roman ruins, the ruins were inhabited by people talking, kissing, smoking, embracing in the warmth of the evening. Happy people.

At about the same time I started reading The Happy City, a book loaded with ideas about understanding and improving our own communities. The author was initially inspired by two Colombian politicians Antanas Mockus and Enrique Peñalosa, who did so much to improve their town, Bogotá:

"An advanced city is not one where even the poor use cars, but rather one where even the rich use public transport," Enrique Peñalosa

But we didn’t want to simply play as the God / architect: as Antanas Mockus showed so well, quality of life means quality of life for all, not just for a happy few. Typically in city builder games you play the part of a god that decides everything, without ever asking the city inhabitants what they think about their own city planning, and about the planners: it's time to change that! What you were meant to do in People In Love was not playing the part of the architect god, you managed instead a protest movement concerned about urban space usage.

It has been shown that urban planning and lack of public services plays a key part in maintaining economical and racial segregation - and changing that can have an impact.
But city planners are lobbied by IBM, Siemens and Cisco Systems (the owners of the Smart City concept) to invest not in public spaces, regulations and universal services, but in developing more and more urban integrated refined digital services for the few - while also extending general surveillance in the urban space, as documented in "Against the smart city" (Adam Greenfield).

So why not develop a universally accessible (mobile) game to make people more sensitive on this theme? I took this game idea to Daniele and we evolved it together, including in the mechanics people making friends and love in public spaces.

The implemented mechanic was based on tapping to manage a crowd of protesters in such a way to put pressure on the city council on the usage of free plots of land. If well managed in time your movement could grow with more protesters influencing more and more the growth of the city.

I proposed this concept to Games For Change as a theme, but it got rejected. I left the first prototype for learning more about game development, and because I was unsure about this game business model - as both Daniele and myself do games for a living.


Urban life and happiness: People in Love