South Australia to spend $8.9 million on National Park designed in Minecraft

Big bucks for big blocks

The South Australian government is employing the world-creating, sandbox video game Minecraft to design changes to the state's national parks, and it's asking primary school children to make their perfect location.

Students in years four, five, six and seven located in Adelaide and the Adelaide Hills area can use Minecraft to design changes to an existing park, or create a brand new one from scratch.

Using only the regular tools found in the game – that means no mods or texture packs – students are asked to compliment the natural landscape with bushwalking trails, orienteering courses, campgrounds and more, taking into account the plants and animals in the area.

"The parks they design as part of this competition might include trails for bushwalking, mountain biking or horse riding, barbecue and picnic areas, public toilets, wheelchair accessible areas, campgrounds, scenic lookouts, adventure playgrounds, interpretive trails, places to launch canoes – or something completely different," said Sustainability, Environment and Conservation Minister Ian Hunter, speaking to InDaily.

"Whatever they create on the screen needs to be able to be translated into the real world."

Building the future

The winning design will be brought to life using $8.9 million of funding, while the overall winner will score a free trip for to Belair national park for their classmates.

Judges are looking for entries that factor in sustainability, usability and overall skill, but it also wants their park design to be fun in the real world. Entries must include five screenshots of the design, as well as a narrated flythrough video lasting three minutes or under.

Minecraft is becoming a tool as much as it is a game, with one community college in England using the Microsoft-owned title to teach its students how to code, while the British Museum is recruiting volunteers to replicate its building in-game.

The competition to design South Australia's next national park closes on 12 June, and entry forms can be found on the Natural Resources site.