Mojang Games, most famous for their sandbox game Minecraft, has teamed up with the UN in the UN Habitat program for a project called Block by Block. The aim is to have kids in underdeveloped countries have a say in the way their future environment is shaped.
This is the second project in which Minecraft is used to give people voice on the way they would like to see their neighbourhood. In Sweden they run the “Mina Kvarter” project together with the Swedish Housing that aims on giving concrete proposals for the refurnishing of large Swedish suburbs built in the 50′s and 60′s.
If you’re in Stockholm in the coming 3 years, you can visit the Technical Museum, where you can give the Mindcraft version of the project a try, look at innovations people proposed and suggest your own.
This time the project aims at upgrading 300 public spaces by 2016. One project in Nairobi is already in planning and you can see a screenshot of the area compared to the version created in Minecraft.
The biggest advantages of using Minecraft for such projects is the ease of use and the possibility to work on “worlds” with many people in the same time. It might even be interesting to put the maps up on public servers so people from all over the world can have a look and participate in the thought process.
If you’re interested in something like this, but for your own project, there is quite an informative threat on the Minecraft forum about mapping real-world places in Minecraft. The results are quite good and I will definitively give it a shot. If you’re looking into mapping out smaller things or even people to Minecraft have a look at the Minecraft Kinect hack documented very well here by Nathan Viniconis.