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SYFY WIRE Minecraft

Minecraft is re-creating the world you can’t get to right now, one block at a time

By Benjamin Bullard
A medieval setting created in Minecraft

With college commencement exercises (and pretty much everything else) upended by coronavirus social distancing measures, a new round of Minecraft players are joining the growing number of students who are celebrating their special attachment to campus by building virtual versions of their own.

Unable to get out and about for one last trek through the hallowed halls at the University of Pennsylvania, Minecraft-savvy students are deploying some old-fashioned creative juice to bring their alma mater into their living rooms, according to The Verge.

Penn students aren’t just crafting a campus; they’re reportedly even planning to stage their graduation in it. Organized by student Andrew Guo as an alternative to this year’s official online graduation, a virtual commencement exercise within Minecraft envisions a more sociable “Hey Day” and commencement ceremony right inside the game.

To achieve the necessary measure of blocky realism, Penn students pieced together “dormitories, food trucks, and local sculptures in-game,” according to the report. And like any good Minecraft crossover into the real world, they’re taking it seriously, too: “Makarios Chung, an early builder, measured buildings’ dimensions and streets positions constantly to ensure their scale was as accurate as possible. The first day of building, students took an hour to decide the placement of one street.”

Penn students aren’t alone in reconstructing their college digs in lieu of actually heading to campus. Students at the Pennsylvania College of Art and Design — better equipped than most to erect virtual structures, we’d wager — are communicating via Discord to erect a Minecraft version of their Lancaster campus.

In Boston, those Minecraft skills are also coming handy for students all over town, where a massive group building project in the academics-rich city has led to remarkably detailed street scenes like this (via The Boston Globe):

Even before the coronavirus pandemic set college students in motion to mine for a virtual alternative, Minecraft’s versatility and rabid fan following already had produced some of the coolest, most elaborate real-life campus recreations around. For the ultimate in blocky campus building, just check out the Minecraft-made, full campus model of Northwestern University. Completed all the way back in 2011, it now even exists here in the real world — thanks to a sprawling and incredibly detailed 3D-printed model.

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