Gamifying urban planning? Riga does it, Source: Unsplash

Riga uses Minecraft to involve young people in urban planning

Riga uses Minecraft to involve young people in urban planning

The videogame makes the complex discipline more approachable and appealing

Riga is a city that has made it a point in 2022 to include every community and group living on its territory in its policies. That also goes for the city’s young people, not least because last year was the European Year of the Youth.

One of the more creative initiatives that came out of this policy was the idea to engage young people more in urban planning. And to do it not just any old way but by employing the popular Minecraft videogame.

Riga has carried out two pilot projects, testing ways in which a map of the capital can be used in a game environment to help young people get to know their local neighbourhood, the city's history and architecture.

Inclusivity through technology

Why Minecraft though? "Usually, it is hard for a municipality to reach young people, but with Minecraft it is more than possible!" explains City Councillor Justīne Panteļējeva. The game's creative mode allows you to design, build and explore, while the Minecraft Education Edition, which is available to all students in Riga's educational institutions, allows you to create specialised "digital classrooms" where you can create content about the history of Riga's neighbourhoods and buildings, urban challenges such as climate change, mobility, and how we can use STEM knowledge to tackle challenges at the city level.

Since its launch in 2011, Minecraft has gained more than 170 million active players worldwide. The game is very popular with young people and they understand it naturally, unlike the professional language used in urban planning, so it is a good way to engage them in a conversation about the city, urban planning and exploring places.

The Riga City Council continues to actively seek ways to transfer this unique experience to more schools in Riga and to spread the method more widely in the Baltics and the European Union.



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