Students who were 'missing' their university create perfect copy of campus using Minecraft

21 May 2020, 15:00

Can you guess which picture is real and which is virtual?
The Minecraft campus and the real University of East Anglia. Picture: UEA / Getty
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

A group of students who said they are "missing" university have made a copy of their campus in the video game Minecraft.

Four housemates at the University of East Anglia (UEA) in Norwich banded together to sift through years of council planning applications and floorplans in order to virtually recreate the grounds of their university as accurately as possible.

More than 200 people now use the online server to visit one another in the cyber world, where coronavirus lockdown measures do not have to be upheld.

Fresher Sophie Johnston, 19, along with her friends Rebecca Bystry, Tom Greensted and Matthew Wright, said they reconstructed the campus in Minecraft because they "missed" socialising with fellow students.

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More than 200 people now visit the virtual campus
More than 200 people now visit the virtual campus. Picture: UEA
University of East Anglia's virtual Student Union
University of East Anglia's virtual Student Union. Picture: UEA

The virtual university grounds have helped the group stay connected and given them, and other users, the opportunity to speak with people they would never have met in the real world.

“We all agree that the thing we miss the most is the social aspect of uni, meeting and getting to know so many different people from all sorts of backgrounds," Ms Johnston said.

"The server has helped us keep in contact with each other, but also meet people we never would have in real life, which has been good for all of us mentally during lockdown.”

Iconic locations, such as the Grade II listed Ziggurat accommodation, the main square, the LCR music venue, the student union, the library and the teaching wall can all be found in the virtual universe.

Sophie Johnston and her housemates created the Minecraft campus
Sophie Johnston and her housemates created the Minecraft campus. Picture: UEA
UEA's main square recreated in Minecraft
UEA's main square recreated in Minecraft. Picture: UEA

Users have enjoyed not having to adhere to social distancing measures at virtual gigs, birthday parties and in games of hide-and-seek while playing in the online world.

The four students, who act as admins for the server all have different roles, with Sophie and Rebecca building the structures, Matthew answering player questions via text chats and voice calls, and Tom who has taught himself coding and is responsible for troubleshooting and fixing issues.

Minecraft is a video game in which players can build block-style structures by extracting raw materials from a virtual universe.

The group built the campus in the server's creative mode, which means the students had unlimited access to materials on offer in the game.

The four housemates in their virtual forms
The four housemates in their virtual forms. Picture: UEA
Another angle of the university's main square in the Minecraft universe
Another angle of the university's main square in the Minecraft universe. Picture: UEA

Although the buildings are already looking incredibly similar to their real-world counterparts, the students are still working on the interiors with the help of others.

Ms Johnston said: “Since we're first years and haven’t been to some of the buildings, we’ve had to use the help of other students, staff and alumni who’ve provided photos to help us - there’s been lots of reminiscing!”

UEA’s 360-acre campus in Norwich, Norfolk, is renowned for its architecture, with many of the original buildings designed by Sir Denys Lasdun.

Anyone who has a Minecraft account can log in and take a walk around. The IP for visiting the server is ueacraft.apexmc.co and the Facebook page for the community called CampusCraft can be found by clicking here.

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