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Popular Video Game Makes Planners Out of Schoolchildren

Not heard of Minecraft yet? Than you must not have a 10-year-old child in your house. Luckily, Sarah Goodyear does, and for our benefit, she describes the popular children's video game that explores real-world urban planning ideas.
September 19, 2012, 5am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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With more than 41,300,000 registered users, if you haven't heard of Minecraft yet, you probably will soon. "It's a video game created by a couple of Swedish guys named Markus Persson and Jens Bergensten," says Goodyear. "Launched in 2009, Minecraft allows you to construct elaborate worlds from basic building blocks, either alone or with other players."

So what makes it a terrific tool for training junior planners? One particular project called Mina Kvarter, or "My Blocks," asks players to develop concepts for specific Stockholm neighborhoods, "where outdated housing projects from the 1950s and ‘60s were due for rehabilitation." According to Carl Manneh, "[O]ne corner stone of the ‘My Blocks' project is to give the people who live in these areas the opportunity to be part of shaping their future neighborhood. That's where Minecraft comes into play; giving people a tool to visualize their ideas of how they want to change their part of town."

Goodyear notes that Minecraft is expanding its engagement with real-world planning and development. "Minecraft and UN-HABITAT have now announced that they are teaming up to work on Block by Block, which will allow people around the world to use the game to re-envision their neighborhoods – and to come up with concrete ideas that can be implemented by planners in real life."

So don't be surprised if you see Minecraft at a community meeting, or on your child's computer screen, sometime soon.


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Published on Tuesday, September 18, 2012 in The Atlantic Cities
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