Community members build MIT campus in Minecraft
Project began in BusyBeavers Discord, now hosted by SIPB
MIT community members constructed a 1:1 replica of the Institute’s campus on Minecraft, a popular sandbox game that allows players to build structures with digital blocks.
“Nothing can replace the time we have together in physical space, but this project was intended to be a spiritual recreation of what campus meant to us,” Shayna Ahteck ’23 wrote in an email to The Tech.
Ahteck wrote that they have been reaching out to other schools who have constructed their campuses on Minecraft, especially “Boston-area schools for the potential of merging our completed maps.”
Ahteck publicized the project via dorm-wide emails, MIT Admissions blog posts, and responding to requests to see the server. “Overall curiosity drives people to seek out the project,” Ahteck wrote.
Jeffery Yu ’22 wrote in an email to The Tech that the project started out “with several people floating the idea” in the BusyBeavers Discord. Yu wrote that he had “previous experience setting up Minecraft servers” so he decided to set one up on his home computer.
Alex Patton ’20 wrote in an email to The Tech that he helped create some groundwork for the project by running a PDF map of campus through WorldPainter to outline “the foundations of all campus buildings, as well most of the roads in Cambridge” and the Charles River.
“I was concerned” that without this framework, “it would be difficult to ensure that everyone's builds were constructed in the proper locations and at the correct scale,” Patton wrote.
Yu wrote that initially, there were “normally” only “4 or 5 people on at once,” so his server “handled it fine, but there were occasional crashes here and there.”
“If I was awake and at my desk, it was easy for me to quickly restart the server, but if I was sleeping,” players “had to wait for me to wake up,” Yu wrote.
A week into the project, there were discussions of “getting larger infrastructure for the server in the Discord,” Yu wrote.
Chris Peterson SM ’13, senior assistant director of admissions, initially offered that Admissions would pay for an “online server hoster,” Yu wrote, adding that Billy Moses ’18, Student Information Processing Board (SIPB) chair, also took notice.
SIPB is a volunteer student computing group that has helped improve MIT computing since 1969.
Moses wrote in an email to The Tech that SIPB “immediately recognized this project as something special to the MIT community and offered up a beefy server and our technical expertise” so that “all of the creative beavers could build without issue.”
Yu wrote that he accepted SIPB’s offer because he “liked the idea of us having full control of the server using MIT's infrastructure rather than relying on an outside host.”
“MIT is unique in being backed by SIPB” compared to other colleges’ esports clubs, Ahteck wrote.
The team has used their “computing-related background” to develop features such as “proximity-based voice chat” and music streaming, Ahteck wrote.
Additionally, Ahteck wrote that there are “plans in the works to do comparative displays” or a virtual reality or mixed reality version of the map “to enhance our on-campus enjoyment of the buildings we usually occupy.”
Patton wrote that “quite a few” admitted students were given “tours” of the Minecraft campus during CP★ and “remain active” on the Minecraft channel of the CP★ Discord. Additionally, Patton participated in an Alpha Delta Phi capture-the-flag event “which attracted over 30 players to battle it out on the virtual campus.”
“As a community coming together to piece the map together, block by block, I think it’s also shown” admitted students “some of the passion and pride that we have in our living communities and spaces,” Ahteck wrote.
The project has seen “708 unique visitors, who have spent 72 person-days in the various servers” as of April 26, Moses wrote. He added that 188 of these visitors have requested access to build on the server, “at least 23” of whom were admitted students.
There “has been a really nice mentorship culture [and] community” surrounding the project, Moses wrote.
“It was very interesting to see what people chose to work on, since it often aligned with the buildings they spent time in or were passionate about,” Yu wrote.
Moses wrote that he is “awed by the dedication necessary to” recreate the “crazy architecture” of the Stata Center. Patton also wrote that his “favorite building has to be Stata.”
“MIT is more than just the buildings,” Ahteck wrote, praising the “passionate community” that grows in MIT’s campus spaces.