- MIT students are recreating their Cambridge, Massachusetts campus on “Minecraft” after COVID-19 ended their semester early.
- Events including graduations and weddings have been moved online to “Minecraft,” “Animal Crossing,” and other online games since the coronavirus spread throughout the world.
- Most US colleges have moved to remote learning for the rest of the semester, and now even the return to campus in the fall is in question.
The coronavirus ended their semester early, but MIT being MIT, students knew they could figure out some kind of technical workaround.
A group of MIT students built a server in “Minecraft,” where they’ve been building the campus in stunning detail, working on recreating places that are especially meaningful to them. The project follows other schools like UPenn and Brown, who have similar virtual campuses in the works.
The block-building game “Minecraft,” which Microsoft bought in 2014 for $2.5 billion, has been one of the most popular games worldwide over the last 10 years. As of September, it had a staggering 112 million active players every month, a number that has reportedly grown to 145 million.
Colleges and universities across the US have sent students home and turned to remote learning for the rest of the semester. Some schools made the switch after a student tested positive for COVID-19, the coronavirus disease, while others did it preemptively. Now, many schools are considering the safety of a fall 2020 return to campus.
With the future uncertain, the “Minecraft” version of MIT is a place for students to gather and a way to pass time. Here’s what it looks like.
The idea came out of a post on the MIT Confessions Facebook page, a page where students can post anonymous thoughts.
As soon as MIT banned large gatherings over 150 people, students started brainstorming other ways to get together.
Students suggested all sorts of virtual ideas, like Second Life or Club Penguin, moderators told Business Insider.
Then, graduate student William Moses brought in the computer club he’s part of, and became one of the moderators on the server once enough students settled on “Minecraft.”
Deciding who would moderate the server was an impromptu process, made up of all the people who were most excited about the building.
In the three weeks the server existed before the moderators talked to Business Insider, at least 600 people had joined.
Moderators told Business Insider that builders collectively spent two months’ of time in the server.
Ahteck told BI that she was impressed by how many people were so dedicated to building up the campus in extreme detail.
At MIT, dorm culture is very strong, and students typically live in the same dorm all four years and form a community there.
The main campus, crossed by Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge, is recognizable from the large grey steps outside the Infinite.
Builders in the server claim what buildings they want to work on and keep it updated with progress, consulting a separate sheet for what materials to use.
They’re also working on the Stata Center, which they call a “work in progress” because of its unusual shape.