Minecraft has become an extraordinarily popular tool for gamers worldwide to create anything they can imagine, if in a blocky kind of way. Now, it's going to become a tool for the United Nations.
Mojang announced Block by Block today, a program they will be running in collaboration with UN Habitat. The idea is to use Minecraft as a kind of urban planning tool. Block by Block will allow UN Habitat to involve local youth in urban planning decisions, "by giving them the opportunity to show planners and decision makers how they would like to see their cities in the future."
In other words, before planners sweep in and decide how an area should be rebuilt, local kids get to have a go at rebuilding the digital version, to help show -- not just tell -- UN Habitat what they want and need.
The first project, in Nairobi, is already in planning. (The image at the top of this post shows the photo and Minecraft recreation of the area; full version here.) The goal is to have rehabilitated 300 public spaces by 2016.