The BBC and Minecraft are teaming up again, announcing a new collaboration between Mojang’s staggeringly popular sandbox and the Beeb’s snappily named BBC Studios Natural History Unit. This time, the partnership is based on Planet Earth 3, the latest in David Attenborough’s long, long line of increasingly elegiac nature documentaries that showcase the beauty and complexity of Earth’s ecosystems and the threats they face from, well, us.
The Planet Earth 3 Minecraft World launches today, and promises landscapes and animals based on the Attenborough series that aired last October in the UK. You’ll be able to, “experience the struggles and triumphs of survival while playing as a series of incredible creatures, including the great white shark, the Arctic wolf, a leopardess, and more.”
Putting aside for one moment how sonically pleasing the word “leopardess” is, you’ll be able to find the new mode in the Minecraft Marketplace for both the game’s Bedrock and Education versions. Once you’ve got it, you’ll be able to “select [your] desired biome, study its wildlife, and embark on tailored activities” that teach you all about the various delicate and intertwined systems that keep life on this ol’ hunk of rock going. “By alternating perspectives between various animals,” says the blurb, “students cultivate empathy and gain a deeper understanding of the ecosystem’s balance.”
As a survival game that’s phenomenally popular with kids, Minecraft is uniquely well-suited to tell these kinds of educational tales, although it’s not the only big game to try its hand at this kind of thing. It reminds me a lot of those Assassin’s Creed discovery modes that taught you about life in Ancient Greece and Egypt and I think it’s genuinely very cool, confirming my worst fears that I have fully transmogrified into every enthusiastic teacher I rolled my eyes at as a child.
Minecraft and the BBC have collaborated on projects like this before. The Planet Earth 3 Minecraft World is very much in-keeping with the precedent set by Minecraft and the BBC’s last collab, which centred around Frozen Planet 2 and let you wander the blocks as a killer whale, polar bear, and bumblebee. None of which is as fun to say as leopardess.
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