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Grant Whittington headshot

Minecraft is Promoting Peacebuilding Through Gaming

Minecraft has created digital educational experiences to inspire students so that they can help achieve peace through actions of all sizes.

In Minecraft, gamers can help the Dalai Lama thwart conflict and promote peace within his village.

Minecraft, the world’s best-selling video game of all time, is creating digital educational experiences to inspire students so that they can help achieve peace through actions of all sizes. The video game powerhouse, through its Minecraft: Education Edition, partnered with the Nobel Peace Center and Games for Change to create “Active Citizen.” With the world trembling in uncertainty following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the timing for the game could hardly be better.

“We must learn at an early age that it’s possible to change the world,” said Nobel Peace Center Executive Director Kjersti Fløgstad in a video announcing the launch of Active Citizen.

Minecraft: Education Edition is leveraging its massive platform and reach for global good, creating learning adventures in a virtual, fun world. Embracing gaming technology as a tool for teaching students, who are already deeply familiar and entranced by such modalities, can yield some compelling educational results.

Gameplay centered around 4 Nobel laureates

After an introduction to inventor and chemist Alfred Nobel, the peace prizes’ grantor and namesake, the game cleverly traverses through the stories of four past Nobel laureates to learn how their bravery, compassion and persistence changed the world. Let’s take a closer look at who gamers are helping, and how:

Wangari Maathai was a Kenyan conservationist and women’s rights advocate who founded the Green Belt Movement, a grassroots initiative that has planted 51 million trees. In 2004, Maathai became the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. In this Minecraft adventure, gamers assist Maathai with her reforestation efforts (as shown below), planting trees and luring goats through the pasture to create sustainable landscapes.

Minecraft gamers can help Wangari Maathai plant trees and lure goats through the pasture to create sustainable landscapes.
Minecraft gamers can help Wangari Maathai plant trees and lure goats through the pasture to create more sustainable landscapes.

Fridtjof Nansen was a humanitarian from Norway who in the aftermath of World War I created a refugee passport system which helped stateless people gain accommodations in more than 50 countries. In Minecraft, we’re transported to a Nordic-like city where we are helping Nansen to identify displaced persons and give them a copy of their “Nansen passport.”

The 14th Dalai Lama is the highest spiritual leader and head of state of Tibet, the mountainous, Buddhist homeland. He was recognized for a Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 for promoting his nonviolent efforts for freedom and peace. In Active Citizen, we readily embrace nature by engaging with the cutest boxy animals imaginable. We then help the Dalai Lama (shown above) thwart conflict and promote peace within his village.

Malala Yousafzai, or widely known as simply Malala, is the youngest Nobel Peace Prize laureate, winning the award at just 17 years old. The young Pakistani activist became an international sensation as her suffrage for better girls’ education inspired countless people across the world. We’re transported to Malala’s village where we are trying to find segments of the journal that she secretly sent to the BBC to describe the indiscriminate education between boys and girls.

Minecraft, a tool that can now be used to envision peace

Though we’ve met the four Nobel laureates, the best part of the game is still to come. At the end of this world tour, we are sent to the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo, Norway where we are presented with a blank slate. The gamer can create a visual representation of what they believe can contribute to a more democratic society. They can pull inspiration from one of the four laureates with whom we’ve journeyed or build entirely new worlds and actions using their own life experiences.

“I would hope that young people all over the world would take inspiration from the game and from encountering Nobel Peace laureates to see that they can play a part, through their community or at the international level in making the world a better place,” said Vidar Helgesen, the Nobel Foundation’s executive director.

Image credit: Video still shot from Minecraft

Grant Whittington headshot

Based in Atlanta, GA, Grant is a nonprofit professional and freelance writer passionate about affordable housing and finding sustainable approaches to international development. A proud graduate of the University of Maryland, Grant spent four months post-grad living in Armenia where he worked for Habitat for Humanity and the World Food Programme. He enjoys playing trivia with friends but is still seeking his first victory - he ceaselessly blames his friends lack of preparation.

Read more stories by Grant Whittington