MINECRAFT is undoubtedly one of the most popular games on the planet and offers an amazing range of opportunities for play, creativity and learning.
Making full use of that, insurer NRMA teamed up with British developers Blockworks to create Climate Warriors, a Minecraft scenario set in a generic Australian rural town threatened by bushfires as a result of climate change.
The free scenario, designed for players aged around 7-12, will be available on the Minecraft Markeplace from around 4am AEST this coming Wednesday, April 21 and be available in two versions – one for ‘regular’ Minecraft players on all platforms, and another specifically designed for Minecraft: Education Edition.
The difference between the two versions is that the education edition one has in-game prompts relating to accompanying educational texts, allowing further exploration of the scenario’s theme; the press materials note “Climate Warriors is an additional resource for teachers to use in their classrooms and can be linked to a number of curriculum areas, including Science, English, Sustainability and Critical and Creative Thinking”.
As part of the Climate Warriors scenario, players first visit the “NRMA Mission Control Centre”, to learn about bushfire dangers, the effects of climate change, and find out more about the flammability of certain construction materials (wood burning more than brick, for example)
Players get to fly a helicopter, drive a fire engine, rescue a koala and deliver supplies around the town. Several unique Australian animals are included as part of the scenario, including kangaroos, koalas, and cockatoos.
The developers have made sure players cannot be injured (or injure anyone/thing else) in the game, and it’s not possible to actually wander into the bushfire near the town (the town itself is not on fire).
The experience is designed to be informative, so players aren’t exposed to any real peril, but given the popularity of Minecraft among the target age group, it is a good way to help city-based students understand the issues facing rural Australia – and that the threat of bushfires affects wildlife as well as people, too.
A complete Climate Warriors playthrough is estimated to take about 30-45 minutes, depending on the player’s experience with Minecraft and once the scenario is complete, players can explore the town (designed to be a mixture of coastal, bush, and rural environments) at their leisure.
From what I saw of the guided demo, it certainly looks like it will appeal to the target audience – not to mention covering an important subject that’s only going to become more relevant in future.