How to use Minecraft in the real-world

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With real-world data in Minecraft, the game 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, users interact not only with other users but also with the geography itself. In other words, the game turns into a geosocial media.

 

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 you can play 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 Minecraft for real-world projects is the large user community, which can be engaged with very little introduction.

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. But this challenge can be solved with Minecraft. Because of Minecraft’s huge user base, users with local knowledge and interest will join in and take part as soon a new server is opened with a version of the real world in Minecraft. For instance, when building a new school, local children can be invited to visit a Minecraft-copy of the school. In this model they can build their version of the surroundings, the playground or eg. the sports fields.

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The images show plans for a new school in Odder, Denmark, where 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 is dedicated to bring game into schools all around the globe. And thousands of teachers are joining with their classes.

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 and 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, history lectures etc.

While using models of the real world as the in-game basic world is still fairly new, Denmark has seen at least 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: https://www.geoboxers.com/urban-planning-in-education-using-geodata-in-minecraft/

Tourism

Geodata in Minecraft can be used in tourism to show cities and landscapes in 3D in an unusual way. To tell the story of sights and landmarks signs can be set up in game . And you can have competitions that reward the best looking and most lifelike arrangement of cultural sights. You can also create treasure hunts where tips and hints are found in the Minecraft world, and the treasures are found in the real world. In consequence, Minecraft can be used not only to draw attention to a location, but it can also be used before, during and after visits to locations 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 sights and places. From VisitViborg every user can warp around in Vibcraft.

Media and marketing

One of the reasons why using the game is so effective when promoting cultural events or civic initiatives is the large number of registered users of Minecraft. If the game is involved, it will immediately create attention and curiosity, and when combined with use of social media Minecraft projects will be 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 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, so subscribe to get the latest updates.

The Bialowieza forest in Minecraft

The Bialowieza forest in Minecraft
The Białowieża Forest is one of the last remaining primeval forests in Europe. To raise awareness of the forest, and to help protect it from excessive logging, GeoBoxers were asked to create Białowieża in Minecraft for Greenpeace Poland.

 

The city of Stavanger in Minecraft

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Stavanger, the municipality of Stavanger in Norway decided to have the city built in Minecraft. This was done with the purpose to involve children and young people in planning the future for the city. 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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The municipality of Viborg provided GeoBoxers with a 3D city model, information on building materials, geological data and agricultural data.These data were used in addition to the free basic data in “Denmark in Minecraft” to create Viborg in Minecraft. 3D laserscans of the old limestone mines were added to create the world’s largest limestone mines in Minecraft.  https://www.geoboxers.com/vibcraft-viborg-in-minecraft/.

 

The world’s largest limestone mines

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

 

Denmark in Minecraft

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Denmark in Minecraft consistis of 4000 billion blocks and 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. GeoBoxers converted data from NASA and HiRISE into Mars Minecraft maps. 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, GeoBoxers 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, that you can find in our News section. A few are highlighted here:

Map Projections and Minecraft

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Try to twist the real world into a computer game, and you will most certainly face the same problems map-makers have dealt with for centuries! Here you can get insight into how we get a somewhat spherical reality into a flat playable world.

 

Change detection in Minecraft

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Beacause not all decision makers, planners and architects are Minecrafters, sometimes, when Minecraft is used for urban planning and city design, there’s a need to view user creations from outside the game. GeoBoxers 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 received all kinds of geodata from the city of Viborg, and from there we created Vibraft. One of the most exciting parts of this job was modelling the world’s largest limestone mines: Mønsted and Daugbjerg. In this way, we brought real mines to Minecraft! You can see a technical overview of how the task was solved in this blog post.

 

Connecting 3D models and GIS with Minecraft
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Making urban planning childs’s play – connecting GIS and geospatial data with Minecraft. If you want to know more, then you can 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/.

Minecraft was first introduced in 2010 and since then it has gathered over 100 million registered users worldwide on different platforms. 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 you can play in creative mode, where you can build and move around without creepers and monsters. It is necessary to buy a license to use Minecraft.

You can also choose to open your own server and invite others to join you in your Minecraft-world. Servers can be set up to meet almost any demand or restriction depending on the purpose. 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.