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Video Games to Design Neighborhoods

According to L.A. architect and game designer Jose Sanchez we will soon be designing our dream homes and neighborhoods with video games. In many respects this is not at all far-fetched considering that "world building" has been an integral part of video games for nearly twenty years. From construction medieval kingdoms to building your favorite shopping center in SIMS, the assembly of a detailed and wholly viable living environment is something that gamers everywhere are familiar with. However, when it comes down to structurally sound plans, the idea of playing a game to design your next condo development may raise a few eyebrows in the architectural community.

Sanchez launched his neighborhood-building simulator called Block'hood, the latest product by his gaming company Plethora Project, at the beginning of March. He claims that the game could assist both professionals and the public better understand the challenges that come with the development of modern urban environments.

"As architects, we have been trained to think of local scales: small, medium, large and extra large," Sanchez stated to the blog Dezeen. "But today we face global issues and we need new tools to address a new kind of scale: a planetary scale. By using games, we can engage a global audience in the problems that architecture is facing."

Block'hood gives gamers/architects an initial 96 blocks to construct their cities from. These include elements such as apartments and shops, natural features including trees and bushes, and power sources such as wind turbines and photovoltaic panels.

"More than 90 per cent of our cities are done by non-architects," he added. "The UN is using games like Minecraft to re-think neighbourhoods and disaster zones. I think that Block'hood is opening a door for the field of architecture, one that many other disciplines have started exploring."

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