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Students recreate UEA campus on Minecraft

Students from the University of East Anglia (UEA) in Norwich have used the computer game Minecraft to recreate their campus after they were missing university life during lockdown.

Just before lockdown, 19 year-old fresher Sophie Johnston, along with housemates Rebecca Bystry, Tom Greensted and Matthew Wright, sifted through years of council planning applications and floorplans to recreate the campus grounds on the popular game.

When lockdown was announced, many of the 17,000 UEA students returned to their family homes across the country, continuing their studies online. Now over 200 of them are using the online server to virtually visit the campus, to which they hope to return soon.

Sophie said: “We all agree that the thing we miss the most is the social aspect of uni, meeting and getting to know so many different people from all sorts of backgrounds. The server has helped us keep in contact with each other, but also meet people we never would have in real life, which has been good for all of us mentally during lockdown.”

The students have built iconic locations like the Ziggurat accommodation, main square, LCR music venue, uea(su), library and teaching wall. And social distancing hasn’t applied at the virtual gigs, birthday parties and the epic game of hide-and-seek they’ve already hosted.

The four students, who act as admins for the server all have different roles, with Sophie and Rebecca building the structures, Matthew answering player questions via text chats and voice calls, and Tom who has taught himself coding and is responsible for troubleshooting and fixing issues.

The campus was built in Minecraft’s creative mode which means the students had unlimited access to the materials the game has to offer. They’re still working on the interiors of some buildings, with the help of other players.

Sophie said: “Since we're first years and haven’t been to some of the buildings, we’ve had to use the help of other students, staff and alumni who’ve provided photos to help us- there’s been lots of reminiscing!”

UEA’s 360-acre campus in Norwich, Norfolk is renowned for its architecture, with many of the original buildings designed by Sir Denys Lasdun. The University, which opened in 1963 is well-known for its use of concrete which contrasts with open grassed areas, woods and even its very own lake. 

Anyone who has a Minecraft account can log in and take a walk around, the IP for visiting the server is ueacraft.apexmc.co and you can also join their CampusCraft community Facebook page.