College Students Are Rebuilding Their Schools In Minecraft After School Closings

The Fisher Fine Arts Library at the University of Pennsylvania. | Photo by chrisinphilly5448; Minecraft screenshot by Makarios Chung


The boom of college Minecraft servers has begun as students from Boston University to UCLA, from South Louisiana Community College to Northwestern University, have recently created or resurrected Minecraft servers with the purpose of bringing students together and building, oftentimes focused on recreating their college campuses. With many schools being closed and holding classes online due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19), college students decided to be creative and create replicas of their college campuses in a popular game called Minecraft.

One example is the University of Pennsylvania as students started recreating the campus in-game. Makarios Chung, an early builder of “Penncraft”, measured buildings’ dimensions and streets’ positions constantly to ensure their scale was as accurate as possible as well as dormitories, food trucks, and local sculptures. Their main goal was to have a completed campus, specifically Locust Street, for graduating seniors to walk down in-game now that COVID-19 ensured they wouldn’t return to campus and complete this UPenn tradition. “I’m the first in my family to graduate from college so it wasn’t just my commencement, it was for the rest of my family too,” senior Nyasia Sajdah-Bey says. She left campus suddenly and is now helping rebuild it in Minecraft, days after departure. “I didn’t have the chance to properly mourn or, finish out my senior bucket list, say goodbye to my friends and teachers,” she says. “I’m still trying to process that loss. So, it’s really sweet working on the campus. It’s making the process of leaving feel less sudden and more gradual.” Chung and Sajdah-Bey are a few of the hundreds of college students on similar paths of departing and virtually rebuilding.

Pearse Anderson, a college student from Oberlin College, stated that “Minecraft has become a salve for many students like myself, and college servers have started to become a place where students can log in to process the sudden loss of an on-campus community — or maybe rebuild it.” “I created an Oberlin server for Minecraft, a game I’ve had for a decade and one that has catalyzed dozens of relationships with people I’ve never met in real life,” Anderson says, “Our server is small, but I’m able to spend time building a home with my partner and adventuring with seniors that I never said goodbye to.”

Even without formal organization, students have come together in college servers in curious ways. On the University of Minnesota server, two students played spikeball on the campus green, tossing a sunflower to each other. In the University of Texas server, students held an in-game birthday party at the top of the famous UT Tower where they set off fireworks and ate cake.

Come May there will be in-game graduations. Boston University seniors Rudy Raveendran and Warren Partridge created “Quaranteen University.” This is a new server specifically made to host a Class of 2020 graduation for students from hundreds of different universities. 706 students from 278 institutions have signed up in the last week, and one mom has already emailed Raveendran asking how she can get an in-game seat to this massive ceremony.

This idea was inspired by a Japanese elementary school as students decided to have their graduation in Minecraft. Japanese schools are to remain closed until after spring vacation. With the Japanese school year ending in March and beginning in April, many students will miss their graduation ceremonies. Therefore, some creative elementary school graduates in Japan came up with the idea of having the ceremony in a game they often meet in. This idea was something that the students decided to do for themselves as it was not set up by teachers or faculty.

With uncertainty over whether graduation ceremonies will be able to take place in Florida, this could be an alternate way for the Class of 2020 to have their graduation ceremony.