Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Minecraft Helping The World

The UN is using video games for social change! Sweet.

This year they are developing and utalizing a program to help develop urban planning in areas hit by natural disasters or high poverty areas. The example used in the article is the building of a sports field for Kibera, Kenya, as well as a photo aerial view of Haiti's rebuilding after the earthquake, by using Minecraft to easily visualize the development.

The game makes everything transparent. It gives the communities we work with more agency and helps everyone see what’s going on.” Pontus Westerberg, a digital projects officer UN-Habitat.

The project dubbed Block by Block (hah! Because it's Minecraft), is one of the highlights of the Games for Change festival in New York, focusing on how video games can change the world. Literally. Many games in the past have focused on teaching ethics to children and the real tragedy of war crimes in poverty stricken areas.

What I really appreciate about the Block by Block project is that it's not a bunch of execs or figureheads developing the land. They are people from the area who would use the space, and want to see the changes. Mojang, the creators of Minecraft, brought computers to the people with a blank template, and from there they build the dream. Money via the UN and the donate button on the website, bring the digital renderings to life. Of course time is a factor and none of this happens overnight, but the fact that a video game is helping bring some normalcy back to Haiti is pretty cool.

Games, people! They do stuff and help the world!

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