‘Roku City’ Would Be a Desirable Place to Live—if it was Real

A streaming box screen saver exhibits better urbanism than many real-life cities.

2 minute read

November 4, 2022, 8:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


iPhone screen with Roku app open

Tada Images / Roku screen

Have you ever wanted to live in a screen saver? As Luke Winkie explains in a New York Times article, some users of Roku, a TV streaming device, are finding themselves wishing they could move into what fans are calling ‘Roku City,’ the hypnotic animated city that scrolls past on the Roku home screen.

If you let a Roku idle long enough, you will eventually be transported to a magenta cityscape beyond time and space. The screen slowly pans across cozy diners, gothic mansions and a sumptuous, moonlit lagoon, all sheathed in a groovy, ‘Blade Runner’-esque color palette.

Designed by artist Kyle Jones, ‘Roku City’ is meant to serve as a vehicle for advertisements embedded as ‘billboards’ in the animated metropolis. “The animation hit Roku servers without much fanfare in 2018, but its status slowly grew over the next few years.” During the early part of the pandemic, interest in the screen saver skyrocketed as fans began to tweet about the allure of the fictional city, and Roku itself got in on the urbanism joke.

Roku City is dynamic, too. “As the summer months left the calendar, a wash of auburn trees began to streak across a new district and a fresh set of spooky cafes — and the requisite filmic easter eggs — filled the city block.”

The attractive urbanism and perennial golden hour leaves one to wonder, how much does rent in Roku City cost?

Wednesday, November 2, 2022 in The New York Times

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