BSR Minecraft – Cultural Gaming for sustainability and cooperation in the Baltic Sea Region
The technology of today presents us with new ways to solve the problems of tomorrow. Cultural Gaming is one of them, an opportunity to let online communities drive positive change. BSR Minecraft grabs that opportunity.
BSR Minecraft is an ambitious project with a vision of engaging children and young people in creating a sustainable and peaceful Baltic Sea Region, and save the Baltic Sea. By building models of houses, communities, cities, landscapes and underwater worlds in a Minecraft-model of the Baltic Sea and of local communities in the region, the users can get involved in co-creating a better and more sustainable world in the region – and have fun while doing it! The popular gaming system will be used in the project as a learning tool, through which groups in different countries can cooperate in creating something together.
How will BSR Minecraft create sustainability and cooperation?
Part of the vision for BSR Minecraft is to create a complete virtual model of the Baltic Sea Region, based on real geographical data, that the users can explore and change. Several succesful attempts has already shown how geographical data can be implemented in Minecraft. Probably the most notable is Denmark in Minecraft, which the Danish Geodata Agency initiated. As the name suggests, the participants in the project built a virtual model of Denmark, complete with buildings. That was only possible to do because Denmark made all its geographical data public. It was the first country in the world to do so. The team responsible for developing the project for the Geodata Agency has established the company GeoBoxers, working with importing geographical data to Minecraft, and is a partner of BSR Minecraft.
The idea of using Minecraft for a cultural co-creation project is an obvious one. The game makes it possible to visualize subjects or themes that can seem abstract in other contexts. That is why it is a useful tool for teaching, and an accessible one, because kids and young people know the game from their spare time. These factors makes Minecraft great for public interaction with citizens and sustainable development of cities. The game gives people a tool for visualizing how their ideas can help change and develop their city or country in the future.
Using BSR Minecraft city planners can engage citizens in the latest challenges, proposals and developments, so they can contribute with visualizations of possible improvements of their region, via models built in Minecraft. BSR Minecraft can also be used to promote visits and tourism, given the possibilities the virtual map would give for highlighting cultural heritage and attractions. But equally important is the fact that the work of building and developing the virtual Baltic Sea Region will include users across the borders of the region. Here they will share a project, without the differences between them being a barrier, as they could be in other situations. Meanwhile they will experience and learn about the environment, social and cultural heritage, and diversity of the Baltic Sea Region.
BSR Minecraft pilot projects
The process of creating a network strong enough to make the ambitious vision of the project possible is already in effect. At this point 3 pilot projects has been initiated in Gdansk (Polen), Cēsis (Letland) og Karlskrona (Sverige), respectively. They all focus on children and young people. Furthermore, establishment of a collaboration with partners in Lolland Falster (Danmark) is in the works, as well as with partners in five countries more in the Baltic Sea Region. Parallel with this, the establishment of the necessary technical underpinnings has been set in motion, to make it easy for future users to log on to a regional server, giving access to local entry points to different parts of the virtual Baltic Sea Region.
The need to establish new partnerships and expand the network is big, if the pilot projects are to be a success, and young people across the region are to be connected through the virtual model of the Baltic Sea Region. Because of this, the search for new partners for the projects is ongoing. Their is a need for both institutional partners with an interest for the project, such as schools, cultural insitutions, NGO’s, city planners, city administrations and tourist offices, but of course young “super users” as well, in the form of Minecraft server managers, who can contribute to the realization of the project, with their expertise and experience in the game. The plan for the future is to gather the network of the project and establish a non-profit organisation.
Read more about the project and how to get involved with it on BSR Minecraft’s webpage.
The idea for BSR Minecraft Cultural Gaming was conceived by The Nordic Council of Ministers in coopereration with the Danish Cultural Institute. The project is part of ‘Culturability BSR – Culture for Sustainable Development’, which is a flagship in the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region. The purpose of Culturability BSR is to use culture as a force for sustainable development. The focus is on improving the cooperation between important actors in the creative industries and social innovation, and in the cities of the Baltic Sea Region. At the present, a partnership with UN Habitat/Block by Block has been established, and new partnership opportunities is continually explored.