SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -- A group of UC Santa Barbara students plans to hold some graduation celebration events on Sunday using their own recreated university campus on Minecraft.
The celebration will include a ceremony, stage and other events.
The students began constructing the sea-side campus about three months ago when classes converted to remote learning for COVID-19.
Charles Neumann, who graduated from UCSB earlier this month, came up with the idea and it quickly gained support after he posted about it on Facebook. He said the virtual space helps keep the campus community together.
"The reason why we started building the campus was because that's what people really wanted to do to be productive," Neumann said.
The virtual campus includes landmarks like the UCen, Storke Tower and the university library. It is built at a scale of one block to one meter.
"If you go on the server as a minecraft player, it kind of feels like you're actually walking on campus," Neumann said. "We actually implemented Gooogle Earth in order to not only get the accurate dimensions, but also figure out what the buildings look like."
Other students went on campus to take pictures of the buildings as they built different parts of the campus.
UCSB student Troy Sambajon said he helped build Arbor and Girvetz Halls.
"I contributed around 3 hours. I did it because it was a fun way that my friends and I could hang out and do something together!" Sambajon said.
Neumann said 700 to 750 people unique players have logged onto the UCSB Minecraft server since it was created.
"We tried to put in many Easter eggs to kind of reflect the life at UCSB," Neumann said. "For example, every year, there is a bird near the UCen or University Center that always harasses people, poking them then flys away."
Students who created the campus decided to tag parrots as UCen birds in Minecraft.
The virtual space could be used to hold events in the future, Neumann said. He hopes it will keep the campus community together since many classes will be held online during the fall quarter as well. He said he’s even heard of prospective students using the map to familiarize themselves with the campus.
Neumann said they plan to recreate Isla Vista buildings after they are done with the campus. The UCSB/Isla Vista Community Minecraft Server now has 500 members on Facebook.
Cal Poly also held a Minecraft graduation ceremony for engineering students and faculty at a recreated Spanos Stadium on June 13.