Neighbourhood watch

10.03.2016 Block'hood : Los Angeles : Urabanism
Block'hood by Jose Sanchez

Global – A new computer game promises to foster greater engagement between the public and the way their neighbourhoods are designed.

  • The game was created by Plethora-Project, an education-focused studio that studies play as a genesis for design
  • Urban and architectural designers are using computer games as a tool to better explain the importance and impact of their work

Neighbourhood-building simulator Block’hood challenges players to take charge of the social, economic and environmental factors that define a successful townscape. The game mechanic is based around stacking a series of building blocks to create your environment. The blocks come in 96 variations, ranging from plants to construction units and energy-production modules.

Each block has a number of inputs and outputs that need to be managed in order for whatever structure they are part of to function efficiently. A tree block, for instance, requires water and produces oxygen. Mismanaging a block causes it to deteriorate, and then it must be removed to prevent the decay from spreading. As Jose Sanchez, the game’s developer, warns, heedless pursuit of utopia can quickly lead to a dystopian outcome.

Outside of the main Sandbox and Challenge modes, a dedicated Education mode guides users through a tutorial on the current technologies affecting sustainable urbanism.

The Big Picture

As gaming appeals to a much wider demographic, its potential as a tool for explaining otherwise complex or opaque subjects to the general public is increasing. Find out more in our Games Market report, out next week.

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