Inspiration

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With real-world data, Minecraft is a great tool to involve and engage an incredibly large and very diverse group of people – especially among children and young people.

When geospatial data are released as worlds in Minecraft, the game turns into a geosocial media, where users interact; not only with the other users but also with the geography itself.

 

How to use Minecraft with true geography

Minecraft is a digital game about breaking and placing blocks. It can be played alone and offline or online together with other users. You can play in survival mode, where you have to fight monsters, or in creative mode, the peaceful mode that allows you to build and move around without being attacked by creepers and monsters.

The greatest benefit when using spatial data in Minecraft is the enormous user community, which can be involved and engaged with no or little introduction and training.

User-involvement, co-creation, Smart Cities

User-involvement and -engagement in urban or rural planning is often difficult to handle, especially when it needs to address and engage children and young people. This challenge can be solved with Minecraft. Due to Minecraft’s huge user base, users with local knowledge and interest will join in as soon a new server is opened with a version of the real world. As an example, when building a new school, local children are enabled to build their version of the surroundings, the playground or the sports field in the Minecraft-copy of their city.

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Plans for a new school in Odder, Denmark. Children were invited to participate in the indoor decorations. 3D architectural data from: CEBRA Architects.

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The city of Stavanger as it is planned. Planned buildings are shown in white between existing buildings. 

Education

All around the globe Minecraft is being used for game-based learning in geography, history, mathematics, democracy and cultural exchange. With the release of Minecraft: Education Edition Microsoft as the owner of Minecraft is dedicated to bring game into schools all around the globe.

In GeoBoxers, we also see increasing interest among students, teachers and publishers for game-based learning. Minecraft is key to the realization because of its common creative platform, its enormous crowd of users, its flexibility and ease of use. Real geodata in Minecraft further enables the use of game-based learning in geography, for virtual excursions, lessons in urban planning etc.

While using models of the real world as the in-game basic world is still fairly new, Denmark has seen two good examples showing the potential:

In “Jagten på fællesskabet” (poorly translated into “The hunt for community”) 6th graders are taught the concepts of social solutions, occupant democracy and -community in an area with social housing. In Danish: http://www.bl.dk/nyheder-presse/pressemeddelelser/2014/5/boern-laerer-om-boliger-og-demokrati-i-minecraft/

In the project “Alcraft” 5th graders are taught about urban planning in the municipality Albertslund just outside Copenhagen. A video in English is available on GeoBoxers’ website: http://www.geoboxers.com/urban-planning-in-education-using-geodata-in-minecraft/

Tourism

Geodata in Minecraft can be further enhanced for tourism purposes by setting up signs in Minecraft to tell the story of sights and landmarks. You can initiate competitions that reward the best looking and most lifelike arrangement of museums and other cultural institutions. Or, perform cyber-real treasure hunts, where tips and hints are found in Minecraft, and treasures are found in the real world.

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In Vibcraft (the city of Viborg in Minecraft) the tourist office is used as a “hub” connecting sites and places. From VisitViborg every user can warp around in Vibcraft.

Media and marketing

Gamification, the use of gaming elements in other activities to encourage engagement from users, is why using Minecraft is so effective when promoting cultural events or civic initiatives. It will immediately create attention and curiosity, and when combined with use of social media like Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and Youtube it is boosted further.

Gamification: “The application of typical elements of game playing (e.g. point scoring, competition with others, rules of play) to other areas of activity, typically as an online marketing technique to encourage engagement with a product or service”, Oxford Dictionaries.

When Viborg, a Danish municipality of 94.000 citizens, launched “Vibcraft” to be used for citizen involvement in urban planning, education and tourism in the autumn of 2014. The interest has been overwhelming: After the first two weeks Vibcraft had 1400 unique users, over 100,000 visits of Vibcraft postings on Facebook and the Vibcraft website became the most visited website in a single month in Viborg municipality. Ever.

GeoBoxers’ work

From 4000 billion 1 meter Minecraft blocks covering the whole of Denmark to one single building measured by drones and modelled in 30 cm blocks, GeoBoxers have solid experience with all kinds of geospatial data sets in all scales. We regularly post articles about our work in the News section  – subscribe to get the latest updates.

The city of Stavanger in Minecraft

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With the purpose to involve children and young people in planning the future for Stavanger, the municipality of Stavanger in Norway decided to have the city built in Minecraft. All available data were used; terrain model, GIS data and digital 3D architectural data.

 

Vibcraft – the city of Viborg in Minecraft

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In addition to the free basic data in “Denmark in Minecraft”, the municipality of Viborg provided GeoBoxers with a 3D city model, information on building materials, geological data, agricultural data and 3D laserscans of the old limestone mine. http://www.geoboxers.com/vibcraft-viborg-in-minecraft/.

 

The world’s largest limestone mines

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Based on LiDAR point cloud data, GeoBoxers generated Minecraft versions of the two limestone mines Moensted and Daugbjerg just west of Viborg in the northern part of Denmark. Moensted in Minecraft was created using statistical methods described in the blogpost Statistical Mines.

 

Denmark in Minecraft

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Consisting of 4000 billion blocks Denmark in Minecraft was created by the founders of GeoBoxers.

 

Mars

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It doesn’t have to be on Earth to be created in Minecraft. Data from NASA and HiRISE was converted into Mars maps in Minecraft. The maps are free to download – and to celebrate the first Danish astronaut, Andreas Mogensen’s, mission to the International Space Station, GeoBoxers’ Mars in Minecraft was released together with a model of ISS in IRISSCraft.

 

Single building measured by drones

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To demonstrate how point clouds from drones and handheld scanners can be shown in Minecraft worlds, GeoBoxers recently worked with the international engineering company COWI on making a Minecraft model of the old Christian IV’s Brewhouse in Copenhagen, Denmark. The building was made available for drone flying and handheld laserscanning by the Agency for Palaces and Cultural Properties.

 

News and articles by GeoBoxers

We publish news and articles on a regular basis, all found in our News section. A few are highlighted here:

Map Projections and Minecraft

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When representing the real world in a computer game one will face the same problems map-makers have dealt with for centuries! Here is a little technical insight into how we get a somewhat spherical reality into a flat playable world.

 

Change detection in Minecraft

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When Minecraft is used for urban planning and city design, there’s a need for decision makers, planners and architects to view user creations from outside the game. GeoBoxers have a few routines, that make it easy to detect changes in Minecraft models and to show these changes in different ways, eg. on a map in GIS.

 

Statistical Mines

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GeoBoxers created Vibcraft: The city of Viborg in Minecraft. One of the most exciting parts of this job was modelling the world’s largest limestone mines: Mønsted and Daugbjerg mines – essentially bringing real mines to minecraft! In this blog post we give a technical overview of how the task was solved.

 

Connecting 3D models and GIS with Minecraft
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Making urban planning childs’s play – connecting GIS and geospatial data with Minecraft. Read about it here.

 

About Minecraft

“Minecraft is a game about breaking and placing blocks. At first, people built structures to protect against nocturnal monsters, but as the game grew, players worked together to create wonderful, imaginative things.” This is how Mojang, the creators of Minecraft introduce the game, https://minecraft.net/.

Since the game was first introduced in 2010 it has gathered over 100 million registered users worldwide on different platforms: computers, XBOX, Playstation and tablets. So far over 22 million people bought the PC and Mac versions of the game.

As a player in Minecraft, you can choose to play alone or online with other users. You can play in survival mode, where you need to fight monsters, or in creative mode, where you can build and move around without creepers and monsters. To use Minecraft you have to buy a license.

You can also choose to open your own server and invite others to join you in your Minecraft-world. The server is highly configurable to meet almost any demand or restriction; depending of the purpose of a specific server. The server software is free of charge and can be hosted at almost any web service provider.

GeoBoxers

GeoBoxers are experts in geospatial data and situated in Copenhagen, Denmark. We excel in bringing large and complex geographical datasets into easy use as boxes and blocks in Minecraft. Read more about us here.