School of Mines student recreates university in Minecraft
A computer science student at South Dakota School of Mines and Technology recreated the university’s campus in the video game Minecraft and made it open to the community.
Jaxxen Cheney started building the campus of the university in Minecraft last year. He has put around 700 hours into the project. While the majority of the campus is complete, he is getting help from others to finish the remaining buildings and to decorate interiors.
Minecraft is an open-world “sandbox” game where users can build nearly anything through the use of blocks.
The virtual South Dakota Mines campus is a scale model of the university’s actual campus. Cheney used Google Earth to plan the spacing of buildings and design their exteriors and maps of the university to build the interiors. He also said that some of the construction has been done in his free time around campus.
“Sometimes I’d go into buildings and sit down with my and then just start building everything I could see,” Cheney said.
According to Cheney, the initial inspiration for creating the replica was to help him get familiar with the university’s campus before enrolling. As a result, he’s had some moments of déjà vu since he started attending.
“I walked into the McLaury building, which is the computer science and math building, and I said, ‘huh, this looks familiar,’” Cheney said.
Cheney said his hope is that others can feel more comfortable with the campus through his tool.
“I want this to help other people on the campus, like incoming students, especially ones that live really far away who can’t just visit on a whim,” Cheney said.
He also said that he’s already gotten alumni who have expressed their gratitude for the virtual recreation.
“I posted a video, a screen recording of the campus, on Reddit,” Cheney said. “Someone commented that they were someone who graduated and were really homesick for Mines, and it really helps them that they can look at the campus again and wander around.”
Since the server only costs $7 a month to maintain, Cheney said he plans to keep it going for a long time to help serve the community.
While the virtual campus was initially created by Cheney, he has opened his Minecraft server up to others who have helped in the construction. Some alumni have also joined to decorate their old dorm rooms.
“Most of the building has been done by me, but I say even the smallest detail helps — even if you’re adding a tree or something,” Cheney said.
Cheney said he’s been playing Minecraft for nearly a decade. He’s made similar projects before, such as a replica of his high school, although that school’s administration asked him to delete it for safety reasons.
“I made it so I could show my sister around who was going to be a freshman,” Cheney said. “One of the original inspirations was also the class of 2020. I had a lot of friends in that, and they didn’t get to ever go back to school.”