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Students to create virtual UB campus at Minecraft build-a-thon

By LAURA HERNANDEZ

Published April 14, 2016

“I hope I get to see some interesting approaches in map-building and how people will build the UB campus.”
Riley Walsh, sophomore computer science major

Students will use their creative computer-gaming skills to build their own version of a virtual UB campus as part of this year’s student-led Minecraft build-a-thon.       

Fans of the popular video game will create their UB Minecraft campus — with prizes awarded to the top players — in the student-led competition being held from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. April 23.

Sponsors include M&T Bank, the Office of the Vice President and Chief Information Officer, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, School of Social Work, the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, and Facilities Planning & Design.

“The main idea of this event is to invoke creativity in students from different age groups and majors through the Minecraft world,” says Achintya Pillai, a junior computer science major. “It allows for a lot of flexibility for students to show and create what they see and what they would like to see on campus.”       

Minecraft, released in 2011, is a popular video game in which players work together in a sandbox — development space where drafts are tested before projects are shared publicly — to use various types of blocks to construct buildings in a 3-D world. While constructing creative and imaginative buildings, players can explore the land, gather resources or fight in combat.

Pillai, who is working on registration maintenance and the website for the UB event, says build-a-thon will help students develop different aspects of their thinking process while inventing new ideas to better the UB campus and environment. This could lead to new ways of helping students tour the school grounds and stay updated on academic and social events without having to travel to UB.                  

“We want to give students a chance to create a rather dynamic virtual environment for students to walk through and get a feel of how the school would be through a virtual perspective,” says Pillai. “This could be a strong recruitment tool for future students and serve as a fun and different experience.”      

Sophomore computer science major Riley Walsh decided to take part in the event after it was announced in one of his classes.   

“I think it’s a cool idea to build a virtual campus in such a common, interactive format like Minecraft,” he says. “I hope I get to see some interesting approaches in map-building and how people will build the UB campus.”

Some students, like junior computer science major Kenneth Yu, signed up for the event to earn extra credit and to take on the challenge.       

“As someone who has spent many hours on Minecraft, I found the task of building UB’s campus in the game quite enticing,” he says. “Minecraft is a simple game that is shaped by a player’s creativity. I can only imagine some of the many variations of our campus that will be created during the event.”

Yu is excited and looking forward to competing alongside his friends during the event.

“It’s hard to pass off on an event where friends can come together and work collectively toward a goal,” he says.           

Teams of four are required to participate, and each person must bring his or her own laptop and have a registered Minecraft account. Each player from the top nine teams will be awarded an Amazon gift card.   

“This build-a-thon will serve as a stepping stone into an even bigger virtual world,” says Pillai. “We want all the Minecraft enthusiasts at UB to be a part of it.”

For more information or to register, visit the build-a-thon website.