Students all around the world, whose college days were cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic, are building their schools in Minecraft in an effort to relive their good memories during these terrible times, as reported in a Verge article.
The day before University of Pennsylvania students were asked to go home, a student decided that they could have a “Hey Day” and graduate inside Minecraft. This led to “Penncraft” students recreating their dormitories, food trucks and local sculptures in-game. Students measured buildings’ dimensions and constantly kept a look out for street positions in order to keep their scale as accurate as possible. On the first day, students took about an hour to decide where and how to place a street. The main goal here was to make the campus as accurate as possible and to see it completed. The focus, moreover, was on Locust Street, down which graduating seniors would walk in-game considering they might not be able to return to campus any time soon to complete this UPenn tradition.
This Minecraft gameplay is becoming more and more popular, considering the suddenness of the situation. This meant that most seniors did not get to finish their bucket lists or properly say goodbye to their friends, teachers and colleges. They moreover could not mourn leaving their colleges properly. For most students, their colleges are places where they experienced a lot of firsts and saw a lot of exciting things happen. However, before they could wrap their heads around what was going on, classes were suspended and they had to pack up and leave. Minecraft, thus, gave them a way to reconnect with their lost student life and properly grieve their loss.
Students from various colleges like Boston University, UCLA, South Louisiana Community College and Northwestern University etc have recently created or resurrected their Minecraft servers. Along with this, they also shared their creations on Discord chats, Facebook meme groups and on Reddit threads. It has created a sense of community during the coronavirus pandemic. This has, thus, created a boom for Minecraft servers whose only purpose is to bring students together.
Searches pertaining to Minecraft server hosting has peaked in the last few weeks and thousands of students are discussing on the topic on various social media sites. Minecraft has thus become a source of solace for Gen Z, which Zoom can never be.
The shutdown came as a rude shock for students, especially seniors, who thought that they had months to prepare before leaving their colleges. This was a direct effect of all colleges shutting down and moving to online classes to tackle the spread of the coronavirus. For most students, this happened over the course of a weekend.
Minecraft allows building 1:1 scale replicas of campuses as it allows students to fill such places and interact with each other as well. Penncraft took up the initiative of working with the Penn Relays’ staff after the competition was cancelled for the first time in 125 years. The goal was to host a virtual “speedrunning” version of the Relays in Minecraft. Apparently, once every college has completed their in-game campus, it will be easier to host events. In this light, Brown and Columbia are planning to host an intramural Minecraft Hunger Games.
Apart from this, students are also planning to host in-game graduation ceremonies. The Quaranteen University server was specifically created for this purpose. It will host a Class of 2020 graduation for hundreds of students from a plethora of universities. As of now, 706 students from 278 institutions have signed up for the event. Apparently, seats are also available for family and friends during this massive ceremony on May 22.
Considering how scared people around the world are because of the coronavirus, Minecraft has provided a unique solution to students all around the world by providing a sense of familiarity and belonging. At a time of social distancing, that’s probably something that people really need.