29th July Journal Column

Web-LogoBy Catriona Lingwood, Chief Executive of Constructing Excellence in the North East

LEGO has always been used by architecture and construction professionals as a means of getting children into our industry, and although it is still massively popular – the 300,000 brick LEGO model of Durham Cathedral was completed just this week, there are now other cool game and programmes available.

The Charted Institute of Building (CIOB) has developed a four-part construction curriculum played within Minecraft – a game where players build things out of blocks, from the simplest of homes to the grandest of castles.

In basic terms, it is a game in which players become the architects of their own world, designing and then building whatever they want, down to the very last brick.

The game ensures gamers consider planning issues, health and safety risks, structural aspects, sustainability and cost when creating their own 3D world – everything we have to consider in real, everyday situations.

‘Craft your Future’ is a construction game aimed at children that takes place within the Minecraft game. It gives young people the chance to explore the methods and skills to become a construction manager, giving them an early introduction to a career in the industry, and with more than 400,000 UK construction workers set to retire between 2018 and 2023, it’s vital we attract children and form a new generation of construction professionals.

Research shows that school children, especially girls, can be turned off our industry very early in their lifetime. Yet, with research showing that the number of female gamers playing PlayStation and X-Box grew 70 per cent between 2011 and 2014 – this could be the perfect opportunity to counter that mind-set.

The success of the game relies on the creativity of the user, meaning it can be used for fun, by those who have an interest in the built environment and by educators as a learning tool.

Teachers that are already using Minecraft in the classroom have encouraged students to build representations of their school, working as a team to see who will build each aspect. It means they have to leave the classroom, measure and work out which materials they need to use – it requires collaboration and a bunch of different skills, including maths, art and design.

Over the last few years the industry has really stepped up its game in terms of digital and technology, and Minecraft is a perfect combination of the two. The game closely aligns to aspects of the Building Information Model (BIM) process, highlighting the emerging role of technology in the industry.

There are 70 million people around the world playing Minecraft, that’s 70 million people, whether they realise it or not, developing skills in team work, communication and mathematics – skills that the industry is crying out for. It really does have the potential to inspire, attract and be the making of new industry professionals.