Building a town in Minecraft could be the first step for people in need of renewed urban spaces. Minecraft studio Mojang is partnering with the United Nations for Block by Block, a program that lets youths contribute to development decisions in their neighborhoods by modifying replicas within the game.
Community members can mutually remake their area's virtual buildings and roads on private servers, whether they have architectural training or not. The program connects their efforts with local governments and urban developers, who use the layouts and designs as a basis for plans.
Mojang will be the main financial sponsor behind Block by Block as it supports UN-Habitat's Sustainable Urban Development Network in upgrading 300 urban areas by 2016. The program's pilot project in the Kibera settlement of Nairobi, Kenya, is already under way, with a re-creation of the region ready to be modified as desired by locals.
The project is modeled on another charitable effort from Mojang in Sweden called Mina Kvarter, or My Blocks. That program similarly let residents participate in planning the renewal of urban areas that had fallen into disrepair.