BLOCK is a video game that "will breach the digital with the physical" and allow anyone to become an active participant in the future of Los Angeles. Described by FAST Co.Exist as "Minecraft for real life" the gameplay, which also bears similarity to The Sims, is founded on understanding the interdependencies of city entities such as housing, shops, parks and infrastructure. The objective of the game is to both educate people and to generate user data for design patterns for the Los Angeles of 2050, producing the first database of a future city. BLOCK allows the player to understand the ecology of the urban realm (focusing on resources such as money, waste, and social capital) ultimately encouraging entrepreneurship "through the design of an ecological urbanism." Fundamentally, it allows for new opportunities to be conceived in the city.
LA is a city that has been built by its inhabitants. Is in in their power to make a significant new change. The LA of 2050 will be shaped by a generation that is currently very young. It requires a ‘massive design medium’ to expand the imagination of the current generation. Video games have the reach to affect a larger community. They also offer the possibility to simulate systems; systems thinking is one of the fundamental challenges of the 21st century. If we have engaging video games that can simulate the quality of the air, the health of the city and the interdependences of businesses, we can allow individuals and organizations to see how their own ideas are intertwined.
The project will be open-source and free to access, and the first prototype of the game has already been developed within University of Southern California School of Architecture. This has allowed the designers to start working with players and communities as they develop and add real data and features to the game. Local communities within LA have already approached the team in order to use the game in the teaching of architecture and urban development. To fully implement this project, the current development team will need to build a larger team in order to go into the community and connect with people in education, design, and urban planning. They will also source real data to create accurate simulations.
Vote for BLOCK to win the funding necessary for the program to be completed. Voting ends on Tuesday 16th September at 1200 PDT.
Watch a complete tutorial of the software below: