The Block by Block Foundation is part of a program by the United Nations and Mojang, the Minecraft developer studio that aims to use the famous block game to transform neglected spaces into vibrant places that can improve people's quality of life.
Minecraft serves as a visualization and collaboration tool, able to capture the ideas and opinions of residents of neighborhoods around the world, who usually do not have a say in public projects. Promoting social inclusion is critical as the population continues to move to cities, combining an increased birth rate mixed with the rural exodus. In the case of Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, the population has doubled since 2000, and is just one of the world's fastest growing cities.
By reproducing their ideas in Minecraft, people are having an active voice on how to revitalize neighborhoods, improving public safety, creating economic opportunities, access to clean water, promoting sustainability, and other aspects of people's lives. According to the foundation, cities can be drivers of innovation and major contributors to economic growth, but when built wrong, they can cause social disparities and major environmental problems, such as urban centers such as Nairobi and Kathmandu.
The first projects to restructure the Block by Block foundation were carried out in suburban neighborhoods of Nairobi, with proposals made in Minecraft leading to the improvement of Dandora's central street, clearing the ditches, planting trees and other improvement works. Through the popular game, the inhabitants were able to compare proposals and better understand the needs of urban spaces.
To get an idea of the importance of Minecraft in the restructuring of Nairobi spaces, 60 sites are currently being upgraded, which initially was not even thought of in public spaces. It took two years to get the budget needed, and the impact created by the early projects catapulted the interest in financing all the rest.