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Young Minecraft players invited to design the perfect park

The State Government of Adelaide, Australia, has asked young Minecraft players to design their perfect park in-game.

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Minecraft Treehouse image by Mike Prosser, CC BY-SA 2.0

Young Minecraft master builders may see their skills translated into meatspace with a new initiative from the State Government of Adelaide, Australia.

The competition, for school children in grades four to seven across Adelaide and the Adelaide Hills area, asks participants to design their "perfect national park", using Minecraft as a design medium. And, although the prize is clearly defined -- a full day's excursion to Belair National Park -- there's a chance some of the ideas presented in the entries could find their way into the real world.

"The State Government has set aside AU$8.9 million for park projects, so some of the ideas your class create might end up being used," the competition page reads.

The list of suggested features -- which need to be translatable into the real world, and compatible with the natural environment, so a Cat Park would be out of the question -- includes hiking trails, picnic areas, scenic lookouts, campgrounds, playgrounds and natural play spaces, public restrooms, rock-climbing locations and geocaches.

The idea behind the competition is to use Minecraft -- the voxel-based "virtual Lego" game that is a runaway hit with younger players -- to engage children with national parks.

"Were looking for new ways to get people to talk to us. "We've got an online survey for the adults, but for the kids, we thought we'd have a go at doing something a bit innovative," environment department consultation officer Georgia Gowing told In Daily.

"We want to know what children want from national parks. Do they want more mountain bike trails? Do they want rock-climbing walls? Do they want natural play areas? It's a really good thing to get kids using [video games] as a positive. They do this stuff on a screen and then they get out into a real national park."

Minecraft already has carved out a pretty solid place in the classroom, with the Mojang-backed MinecraftEdu project seeing educators use it as a teaching tool.

Entries to the competition -- which close on June 12 -- must be made on unmodded versions of the game -- to keep it fair -- and must consist of five screenshots and a flythrough video lasting no longer than three minutes. They will be judged on useability, sustainability, design, year level, fun factor and amazingness.

The winning project will be announced on July 13. We'd better not see any creepers in the bushes, though.