Children tackle flood risks through Minecraft

Rivercraft by Minecraft

The UK's Environment Agency is running a pilot scheme to see how video games such as Minecraft can help raise awareness of, and find solutions to, the issue of flooding.

Pupils at Archbishop Temple Church of England High School in the city of Preston, Lancashire, have been testing specially-themed Minecraft mini-games built to replicate their local flood defences.

Based on the £54.7million flood risk management scheme in Preston and South Ribble, the in-game Preston world is the first activity of its kind that uses artificial intelligence to map a region and convert it into an interactive Minecraft map.

With a drive to encourage young people into environment based careers, the characters in the game have also been adapted to reflect the diversity of the local project team and the communities the Environment Agency serves.

"Not only will young people learn about a major flooding scheme in the UK, but they will also discover more about climate change, the environment, flooding and the types of roles available for careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics."

Andy Brown, Environment Agency

The Environment Agency and Microsoft will work alongside experts in youth engagement, BlockBuilders to draw users into three themed games. The Preston world will encourage young people to learn about flood risk management, climate change, local human geography, engineering and the environment.

  • Game 1 – Managing Flooding. This game will focus on building the Preston and South Ribble flood defences. The player will be tasked with constructing various types of flood prevention measures including natural flood management, walls and embankments as well as flood storage areas and flood gates. Players will learn about the pros and cons of each approach and their suitability within local communities.
  • Game 2 – Flood Prevention. This game will explore how individual actions can alleviate climate change and how understanding flood risk can reduce the damage to people and property.
  • Game 3 - Our Local Environment. This game will begin on the riverbank where the player will be tasked with conducting an ecological survey using their digital workbook and camera. The aim of this game will be for the surveyors to spot and record some of our most beloved wildlife species including water voles and otters.

If the scheme is successful then other similar projects could be rolled out in other parts of England, say the Environment Agency.

"We’re committed to making a better world through the power of play and this project is at the forefront of that vision."

Justin Edwards, Minecraft.

The scope of this project goes far beyond the UK. Using the project with the Environment Agency as a template, the makers of Minecraft have created a Education Edition game called Rivercraft, which allows students around the world to explore and understand flood mitigation, climate change, and the local environment.

The games are available globally and in multiple languages so they can be used in educational and home environments. A Minecraft spokesperson said the educational tool is now used by millions of educators and students in 112 countries, with hundreds of free lessons and curriculum, teacher trainings, and learning programs.

To find out more about Rivercraft, visit: