Students from colleges and universities across the country are recreating their campuses within Minecraft, a virtual game where users can create their own worlds and experiences. Senior Pearse Anderson wrote a piece published in the Verge about how these virtual creations serve as surrogate spaces that facilitate connection and pay tribute to the campuses students have left behind due to the COVID-19 pandemic that forced many educational institutions to shift to remote learning.
We asked Anderson, an environmental food studies and creative writing double major, about the undertaking of starting an Oberlin server in Minecraft.
What does the space on the Oberlin College server look like?
The Oberlin College server in Minecraft is a natural landscape dotted with small huts and towers built by individual Oberlin students. We do not have the manpower or resources to create an entire campus in-game, but I would like to start a campus build soon, perhaps inspired by similar campuses across college servers.
What surprised you most about undertaking this build project?
How quickly students took to it. After leaving the server for a few days, I returned to see a railroad going through the desert, a massive farm in the sky, and fields of wheat planted on a tiny island so that bread (and roses) would be accessible to all.
What are your hopes for the Oberlin that exists inside of Minecraft?
I hope that we are able to make an Oberlin College campus inside of Minecraft. Maybe that won't happen on the server we're currently using, especially since Oberlin is quite flat and our server has numerous mountains and savannahs, but I hope it happens eventually! I know that I'll forget the small details of Oberlin, like the pile of pillows in Warner or the weird column behind the Art Library, but we can keep those memories alive inside a server. Heck, we might even be able to rebuild Dascomb the way that seniors remember.
What’s been most gratifying about this project?
The most gratifying thing is seeing new players join Minecraft solely because they want to stay in touch with fellow Obies. Minecraft can feel like a complicated game to jump into, especially with all the rules, monsters, and larger structural issues—including the gender gap in gaming—but Minecraft is also a game where you can release tension as you farm melons and dye sheep funny colors. It's good to see people implement those positive destressors.
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