Minecraft is being used to teach young people in schools about flooding.
The mod was created in a collaboration between Minecraft, the Environment Agency and BlockBuilders, an organisation that specialises in digital youth engagement.
It contains three games, all set in a recreation of Preston. They are as follows:
Managing Flooding - players build their own version of the Preston flood defences, flood storage areas and flood gates. They will then flood the area with water to learn the pros and cons of each approach and their suitability within local communities
Flood Prevention - players explore how individual actions can alleviate climate change and how understanding flood risk can reduce the damage to people and property
Our Local Environment - players conduct an ecological survey using a digital workbook and in-game camera. They must spot and record wildlife species including water voles and otters.
"When we introduced this Minecraft world to the young people, we saw them engage in the topic. They learnt about flooding, they understood what the local flood defences will do and gained more knowledge about the community they live in," said Justin Edwards, director of learning programmes at Minecraft.
"It’s teaching children environmental skills, the mechanics of flooding and flood protection but it also teaches them about project management, teamwork, engineering concepts and communication with others wherever they are in the world.
"The other important skill the game teaches is failure in a safe and fun way. The children can build a flood defence and it might not quite work but they can learn why it hasn’t worked. One of the great ways we all learn is when things don’t go as planned."
The mod will be available globally in multiple languages from today.
The map was created using 3D data of Preston to produce a Minecraft world, which was further adapted using screenshots and imagery of the town to add recognisable details, adding to immersion.
Flooding is a major issue both in Lancashire and across the country.
"Minecraft is helping us engage with the public on how we manage flood and coastal erosion in the context of climate change. It helps young people in particular understand what’s going on and their part in it, because they are the ones who are going to face the hardest impacts of the climate emergency," said Andy Brown, area flooding coastal risk manager for the Environment Agency in Lancashire.
"One of the brilliant aspects of this collaboration with Minecraft is that these games are going to be available around the world. If we can stimulate just a small number of people to think: 'my career of choice is something in science, technology, engineering or maths that relates to managing flood risk in the future', then that will be a great success for us."