An entire generation of kids was inspired to become architects by the video game Minecraft, a Lego-like world building game. Now, Chilean architect Jose Sanchez wants to inspire a new generation of urban planners with his own video game Block'hood.
Unlike SimCity, where game players get to build an entire city, Block'hood makes players focus on vertically developing a single city block. Money is no object, but that doesn't mean solutions are unlimited. Players can only build off of the resources they already have, and they're constantly trying to offset certain aspects. For example, if you have too much pollution, the rooftop garden will die, residents will starve, businesses won't have enough workers, and the economy grinds to a halt.
Sanchez says he has a two-fold agenda. Block'hood, he said, already situates itself into the legacy of sandbox construction games, like Will Wright's Sim games. But that's not necessarily the audience he wants Block'hood to reach. "This game has the ability to reach a different kind of audience," he says. It could be used in city councils, he says, to show the effects of new zoning plans, or in classrooms to teach kids how urban planning works, so they can see what happens in a neighborhood without enough water, or a particular social dynamic.