Chimni's West London Trial Adds A Minecraft Project To The Fun!
'Building Chiswick In Minecraft' - As part of our Chiswick, West London trial of Chimni, we have been working closely with local Residents Groups and their web sites to help them engage with residents through new digital media. We are also supporting them in projects that help them engage with young people. Our primary project in the trial area is 'Chiswick in Minecraft'. This project focusses young minds on the design, planning & construction issues in their local areas by recreating a part of the local area in Minecraft, the online PC game that claims 100M global users.
Minecraft is normally used to create fantasy worlds which include sophisticated landscapes and buildings which players get to construct block by block - like on-screen Lego. One of the most interesting features of the game is that the game has no specific 'aim'. The players do not have to 'kill' each other or compete to 'win' something. The main concept is to use natural resources to build a shelter, collaboratively interacting with other players. Even so, around the world, Mums' advice forums are packed with parents complaining their children are addicted to Minecraft. But recently more serious, educational uses have started emerging. The construction and planning industries in a particular, have started to see the appeal.
In the UK, the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) has created a version of the game called ‘Craft your Future’ (see here for details). This is a construction game aimed at 12-14 year olds in which students encounter a variety of problems that reflect construction challenges in cities today. The CIOB said: “Minecraft, like Lego, has the capacity to inspire a new wave of construction professionals in an ever-increasing digital industry”.
The Ordnance Survey (OS), the Government owned, national mapping agency, have also followed suit by creating an online map of the UK in a Minecraft world. This was a project run by young interns at the OS and they have now opened it up to the public by letting anyone have a copy of what they created (See here). They are encouraging software developers to download a copy of their map shown in the picture on the right and experiment with it.
Now Chimni is aiming to use the OS Minecraft map to widen the educational possibilities even further and to use Minecraft to interest young people in the layout and planning issues in streets and neighbourhoods around Chiswick - our initial 'communities' trial area.
As part of our wider Chimni ‘Smart Suburb’ project, the Chimni team have taken a copy of the OS Minecraft map and used it to build an online version of ‘Chiswick in Minecraft’. We are opening it up to residents, via links on our local community websites, so that local Minecraft players can access their own street and build copies their own houses.
The project is now live with the Bedford Park Residents Association and the Stamford Brook Residents Group. Each local community group has been asked to appoint a ‘gatekeeper’ from among the young local residents who know the game. They will be responsible for distributing the access codes and allocating the correct ‘plots of land’ in the online map to the right Resident households. We are currently recruiting this person for Stamford Brook. They also need to be in charge of making sure their bit of the map is accurate and doesn’t need tidying or changing before letting the residents loose into it. It is planned that this community activity can be featured on their Personal Statement for University.
In its basic form the Chiswick in Minecraft map doesn’t contain houses or other buildings just empty plots on the map where Residents can construct a copy of their own house. But where possible, Chimni have been working with local architects and Minecraft developers to ensure that many of the more common house designs are pre-built in the Minecraft software. Starting with Bedford Park Residents Association and the Stamford Brook Residents, these house designs are being made available to Residents who want to play. The 6 most frequent houses in these areas are currently being assembled as free download file. Residents will be able to take a copy and drop it onto the plot of 'land' in Minecraft that represents where their house sits in real life.
BPRA Chair Terry Scott said “most of us had to have this explained, but when we showed it to some young players, they snatched it out of our hands”. Over time, Stamford Brook (along with the BPRA and other Residents Associattions) will be working with the local authority planning departments to understand how the Minecraft model can be used in future planning activity. In the short term we will use the game to let local young people enter competitions such as the CIOBs Minecraft 'House of the Future' competition (see here)
Bedford Park Residents Association: www.bpra-web.org.uk
Stamford Brook Residents Group: www.stamfordbrook.org.uk
St Peters Square Residents Association:(Project not yet live)
Strand On the Green Residents Association: (Project not yet live)
More useful sites :
Ordnance Survey Minecraft: www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/minecraft-map-britain.html
The CIOB 'Craft Your Future' Project: www.ciob.org/minecraft-help-next-generation-build-future
CIOB Minecraft 'Houses of the Future' videos www.youtube.com/HouseOfTheFutureEntries
Minecraft and BIM+ www.bimplus.co.uk/modi5fied-gam5e-add2s-bim-minecraft/