Australian kids could see their Minecraft designs turned into a real life park in Adelaide

This, only as a park: kids play Minecraft in Ascot, England, August 2014. Image: Getty.

For readers who don’t have children – or who aren’t basically children themselves (and we know some of you are) - it can be easy to forget that Minecraft is the video games phenomenon of its generation. The open-world sandbox game has tens of millions of players, of all ages; but it’s become especially beloved of kids, because at last there’s a game that matches the near-boundless creativity of young minds.

The South Australia state government hasn’t missed this, and it’s running a cute competition for students in Adelaide and the surrounding areas, in which they’ll get to see their Minecraft creations turned into an actual, real life park. As InDaily, a local news site, reports:

The winning designs will help guide national park upgrades worth around $10 million. The competition is open to students in years four, five, six and seven in Adelaide and the Adelaide Hills.

The parks they design as part of this competition might include trails for bushwalking, mountain biking or horse riding, barbecue and picnic areas, public toilets, wheelchair accessible areas, campgrounds, scenic lookouts, adventure playgrounds, interpretive trails, places to launch canoes – or something completely different,” said Sustainability, Environment and Conservation Minister Ian Hunter.

To enter, kids have to submit five screenshots of their ideas, plus upload a three-minute narrated flythrough their Minecraft world.

The final prize – specifically, that AU$8.9m budget – sadly isn’t all earmarked for the creation of one Minecraft-designed park.

Instead, it’s being managed by the Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges Natural Resources Management Board (NR AMLR) as part of a community outreach programme, and we can be pretty sure that most of it isn’t going to go into just this one contest. The entry terms and conditions also mention that it’s only offering the possibility that part of that money might go on “some” of the ideas submitted, so there’s further reason to think that this might be more heat than light.

There are other restrictions on what kinds of things the pupils who enter can do, too. They have to use a vanilla Minecraft installation (which means no mods, and that’s half the game’s fun), and by entering they’ll be surrendering copyright over their creations to NR AMLR.

But. As outreach schemes go, this is a relatively great one. Not only does it respect Minecraft as the creative tool that its players know it is (even if its detractors may misunderstand and disagree), but it shows that some bureaucrats can appreciate that nature and technology aren’t always in opposition. The entries have to respect the existing beauty of Adelaide and its nearby Mount Lofty mountain range, while contributing to it – exactly the kind of nuance that every new generation of engineers and architects needs.


CityMetric is now City Monitor! Come see us at our new home

City Monitor is now live in beta at

CityMetric is now City Monitor, a name that reflects both a ramping up of our ambitions as well as our membership in a network of like-minded publications from New Statesman Media Group. Our new site is now live in beta, so please visit us there going forward. Here’s what CityMetric readers should know about this exciting transition.  

Regular CityMetric readers may have already noticed a few changes around here since the spring. CityMetric’s beloved founding editor, Jonn Elledge, has moved on to some new adventures, and a new team has formed to take the site into the future. It’s led by yours truly – I’m Sommer Mathis, the editor-in-chief of City Monitor. Hello!

My background includes having served as the founding editor of CityLab, editor-in-chief of Atlas Obscura, and editor-in-chief of DCist, a local news publication in the District of Columbia. I’ve been reporting on and writing about cities in one way or another for the past 15 years. To me, there is no more important story in the world right now than how cities are changing and adapting to an increasingly challenging global landscape. The majority of the world’s population lives in cities, and if we’re ever going to be able to tackle the most pressing issues currently facing our planet – the climate emergency, rising inequality, the Covid-19 pandemic ­­­– cities are going to have to lead the way.

That’s why City Monitor is now a global publication dedicated to the future of cities everywhere – not just in the UK (nor for that matter just in the US, where I live). Our mission is to help our readers, many of whom are in leadership positions around the globe, navigate how cities are changing and discover what’s next in the world of urban policy. We’ll do that through original reporting, expert opinion and most crucially, a data-driven approach that emphasises evidence and rigorous analysis. We want to arm local decision-makers and those they work in concert with – whether that’s elected officials, bureaucratic leaders, policy advocates, neighbourhood activists, academics and researchers, entrepreneurs, or plain-old engaged citizens – with real insights and potential answers to tough problems. Subjects we cover include transportation, infrastructure, housing, urban design, public safety, the environment, the economy, and much more.

The City Monitor team is made up of some of the most experienced urban policy journalists in the world. Our managing editor is Adam Sneed, also a CityLab alum where he served as a senior associate editor. Before that he was a technology reporter at Politico. Allison Arieff is City Monitor’s senior editor. She was previously editorial director of the urban planning and policy think tank SPUR, as well as a contributing columnist for The New York Times. Staff writer Jake Blumgart most recently covered development, housing and politics for WHYY, the local public radio station in Philadelphia. And our data reporter is Alexandra Kanik, whose previous roles include data reporting for Louisville Public Media in Kentucky and PublicSource in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Our team will continue to grow in the coming weeks, and we’ll also be collaborating closely with our editorial colleagues across New Statesman Media Group. In fact, we’re launching a whole network of new publications, covering topics such as the clean energy transition, foreign direct investment, technology, banks and more. Many of these sectors will frequently overlap with our cities coverage, and a key part of our plan is make the most of the expertise that all of these newsrooms combined will bring to bear on our journalism.

Please visit going forward, where you can also sign up for our free email newsletter.

As for CityMetric, some of its archives have already been moved over to the new website, and the rest will follow not long after. If you’re looking for a favourite piece from CityMetric’s past, for a time you’ll still be able to find it here, but before long the whole archive will move over to City Monitor.

On behalf of the City Monitor team, I’m thrilled to invite you to come along for the ride at our new digs. You can follow City Monitor on LinkedIn and on Twitter. If you’re interested in learning more about the potential for a commercial partnership with City Monitor, please get in touch with our director of partnerships, Joe Maughan.

I want to thank and congratulate Jonn Elledge on a brilliant run. Everything we do from here on out will be building on the legacy of his work, and the community that he built here at CityMetric. Cheers, Jonn!

To our readers, on behalf of the City Monitor team, thank you from all of us for being such loyal CityMetric fans. We couldn’t have done any of this without you.

Sommer Mathis is editor-in-chief of City Monitor.