Minecraft spinoff targets flood risk, climate change and biodiversity

Rivercraft 2 is a suite of games that was launched yesterday to help educate young people about the risks of flooding. It’s hoped that the games will help to inspire future career choices.

Produced by a partnership of the Environment Agency, Microsoft and developers BlockBuilders, the game will engage young people on flood risk reduction, climate change and biodiversity. The games provide an innovative and exciting geography resource for students and teachers.

The launch of Rivercraft 2, available on the Minecraft Education Edition, follows the success of the original game, rolled out last April and based on the £54.7 million flood risk management scheme in Preston and South Ribble. The in-game Preston world represented the first use of artificial intelligence to map a region and convert it into an interactive Minecraft map.

Rivercraft 2 is a continuation of this project, now based in generic urban and rural worlds rather than a specific location, making it applicable to all.

John Curtin, Environment Agency chief executive, said “This is an amazing opportunity for young people to learn about flooding, the environment and climate resilience in a really fun and interactive way. We know that climate anxiety is a real issue for young people, so we hope these games not only help to educate but also inspire, by providing them with the skills and knowledge to take action and make a difference.

The suite comprises the following three games:

  • Nature-based Solutions, where the player has to use natural methods to reduce flood risk, including by restoring rivers, building ponds and helping beavers to build their dam
  • Farming, Irrigation and Drought, where the player has to find the right balance of water use, leafy crops and cover crops for a successful harvest and to ensure wildlife survives during a drought
  • Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) and Water Efficiency in the home, where the player has to construct sustainable urban drainage features to reduce surface water flooding and complete tasks around a typical home to reduce water use.

Aiming to inspire the scientists and engineers of tomorrow, Rivercraft 2 features real Environment Agency specialists represented in the game as non-playable characters (NPCs).

Rivercraft 2 has received industry recognition, having been shortlisted for two awards: for the Excellence in Innovation category as part of the Geography in Government awards and for the Innovation Excellence category as part of the Flood and Coast Excellence awards 2023.

Janet Ruffhead, head of humanities at Bishop’s Hatfield Girls’ School, said “The creative animation and competitive element built into the games kept the students engaged throughout. My students loved this new innovative way of learning about the impacts of climate change and managing river flooding, as well as learning about so many interesting job opportunities. I highly recommend this educational product.”


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