UIndy meets ‘Minecraft:’ Student creates digital replica of campus

Winding down after a long day of classes, some students will sleep, others watch Netflix or a variety of other options to relax, but for junior nursing major Mark Jones, making the University of Indianapolis in its entirety on “Minecraft” is how he relaxes.

Photo Contributed by Mark Jones
Esch Hall depicted in “Minecraft’s,” pixelated art style. This is one of the two buildings featured by Jones.

“To be honest I was bored one day, and I needed something to relax myself throughout the semester,” Jones said. “I thought I might as well find something I like doing and ‘Minecraft’ has always been a game that I kind of just play in my free time, and I needed something challenging. So, I decided to build UIndy and learn about the campus as I go around taking pictures and about the architecture that goes with it.”

According to Jones, the photos he takes on his cellphone and finds on Google Maps are used to get the details of the buildings correct. Currently, he said he is working on the project by himself. While building UIndy, Jones said he is unsure if he should build the inside of its buildings as well.

“It depends on how long it actually takes on building campus. I have put about 49 hours in, and [as you can see] based off of the Twitter page, I have only completed Esch and Smith Mall,” Jones said. “So, it is going to take quite a while to get done. My goal is to be finished by the end of senior year, but we will see how far it goes.”

According to Jones, the most difficult part of his project is when he has to build circular or round objects on campus. Since “Minecraft” features only cube blocks to create with, there are no natural circles or curves in the game.

“Campus has a lot of circles on it,” Jones said. “It is really difficult to do circles when everything is made of squares so I use a pixel image generator. ‘Minecraft’ also doesn’t have a lot of the detailed blocks that I need for some of the buildings on campus so I have to see what’s similar and use that.”

Jones takes his pictures of rounder objects, such as Smith Mall, and uploads the image to a pixel art creator website. This website then takes his image and pixelates it, which in turn then resembles how a round object would look when made entirely out of squares. With this new pixel image as reference, he then recreates it in “Minecraft.”

Currently, Jones plans on building everything on campus, from Schwitzer Student Center all the way to the gravel lots on the outskirts of campus. This not only includes the shapes of the buildings, but the different types of bricks, the university’s symbol on the front side of Esch, down to the bushes, trees and flowers that line the buildings are all featured by Jones.

When he is finished building it, he hopes that he can approach UIndy over purchasing his project.

“I am going to try and contact the software creators of ‘Minecraft’ and see what my steps would be to selling it to them to be able to use as like a downloadable world in ‘Minecraft,’” Jones said. “I have to get permission from the university obviously to be able to do something like that, but it would be interesting to see if I could put something out there, or even talk to the university about using it for something.”

Photo Contributed by Mark Jones
Smith Mall as shown in “Minecraft’s” built-in, generic “flat world.” Jones posts his completed work on Twitter.

It would not be the first time a college has used “Minecraft” to its advantage. Mount St. Joseph University in Ohio has completely built their campus in “Minecraft” and uses it to attract potential students, according to the Cincinnati Business Courier. A friend of Jones, senior psychology major Chris Butler said that this is not the first major project Jones has underwent.

“Over winter break he started building the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, and he sent my friends and I pictures of it, and it was just amazing,” Butler said. “Earlier this semester he just started on Esch Hall, and now it’s expanded, and he just finished Smith Mall.”

Butler is unsure how Jones began to think about building UIndy, but he believes that school is stressful, and that this is Jones’s way of relieving it. According to Butler, he has always been artistic and has painted before, and that his new way of pursuing art is through “Minecraft.”