Minecraft game now helping developing nations plan communities online.
Leveraging Minecraft, a creative 3D building game, UN Habitat recently announced plans to engage populations in developing nations around the process of planning and designing their own communities. The three-year partnership between the UN and Minecraft developer Mojang, called "Block by Block," will support UN Habitat's Sustainable Urban Development Network as it endeavors to upgrade 300 public spaces by 2016.
Minecraft United Nations
With more than 36 million registered users, Minecraft challenges and improves creative problem-solving skills while also imparting valuable information among players. In fact, schools across the United States use MinecraftEdu, a classroom-adapted version of Minecraft, to teach students science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) as well as language, communication skills, sociology and history.
Using a special version of Minecraft that virtually replicates existing communities, the UN hopes to leverage "Block by Block" to empower students with the ability to improve their neighborhoods. Within Minecraft's digital representations, users can construct an unlimited array of buildings and public spaces, including homes, parks and offices. By collecting input from local populations, the game can inform urban planners and decision makers about the types of improvements that would be most beneficial and appealing to the overall community. The pilot project has already launched in Kibera, Nairobi.
"Block by Block" is another chapter in the UN's history of using video games to connect and communicate with youth around the world. The UN World Food Program's Food Force, for example, educates children about world hunger by allowing players to become humanitarian workers stationed on a fictional famine-stricken island. The UN also partnered with International Strategy for Disaster Reduction to create Stop Disasters, a new simulation video game that teaches response methods for wildfires, earthquakes, tsunamis and other natural disasters. Additionally, UNHCR, the UN's Refugee Agency, launched Against All Odds, an interactive online game designed to increase student knowledge and awareness of refugee hardships.
To learn more about UN Habitat's Sustainable Urban Development Network, click here.