On Saturday, Harker students were invited to explore a virtual replica of the upper school campus, created in Minecraft by a team of about 40 students. The detailed recreation features nearly every room on campus, including teachers’ classrooms and staff offices.
“We’ve filled in many rooms and will make it as accurate as possible,” said senior Jason Lin, a lead on the project. “In some places, the detail is truly impressive. For instance, the inside library room, from which students are often ejected for being too loud, permanently has a red card next to its door, which signifies that it’s getting too loud.”
Those who did not have a Minecraft account were invited to view a special livestream for a tour of the campus. Minecraft players and viewers on the livestream combined for a total of nearly 200 visitors.
The project – led by Lin and seniors Richard Chang, Arusha Patil and Ethan Steeg, as well as junior Kailash Ranganathan and sophomores Rupert Chen, Kris Estrada, Michelle Jin and Anthony Tong – was staged on a Minecraft server set up toward the end of the 2019-20 school year with the help of upper school learning, innovation and design (LID) director Diane Main. “We worked with Mrs. Main to make sure that this server would be a positive, contained environment,” Lin said. “It went pretty well – dozens of people met with classmates, built houses together and just had fun on these servers amidst shelter-in-place.”
The upper school campus project was started over the summer, with map data, aerial footage and an online graphing calculator being used to recreate the campus. Lin hopes the Minecraft campus can continue to be a place for students to convene. “[Upper school dean of students Kevin Williamson] and the class deans have been very open and helpful in this process,” said Lin. “We will work with them to make sure that the server can be a positive, contained space for students to have fun together throughout the year.”
Lin said visiting the virtual campus with his friends has helped foster a sense of community in a time when students are spending so much time apart. “Nothing beats the feeling of racing down the hallways of [the campus’ main building] again with six friends,” he said. “Even though it’s Minecraft, the sense of togetherness is real.”