UC Berkeley students use Minecraft to create virtual graduation

UC Berkeley students use Minecraft to create virtual graduation

Graduating students at UC Berkeley used sandbox video game Minecraft to create their own virtual graduation ceremony.

It is said that necessity is the mother of invention, and a group of eight students took matters into their own hands in regards to COVID-19 shutting down their graduation ceremony.

Using Minecraft to create “Blockeley University”

What started out as a sarcastic comment on Facebook, became a huge digital reality.

Bjorn Lustic, a cognitive science major, and seven of his friends began building a virtual replica of the graduation site, Memorial Stadium, using Minecraft. The project was soon joined by other students, along with some faculty members, as it mushroomed in popularity.

“I think due to the circumstances (of sheltering in place) a lot of people could relate and wanted to help,” Breitbart News Network quotes Lustic.

Soon after, “Blockeley University” was officially built on Minecraft, with the realistic replica of the school’s dome, its iconic yellow bleachers, and the Golden Bears logo.

It took a number of weeks but the project was completed in time. The “Blockeley University” graduation ceremony took place last Saturday and served as a virtual substitute for the canceled live commencement.

The virtual graduation closely mirrored what would have happened in the real world. There were speeches by Chancellor Carol Christ and Vice-Chancellor Marc Fisher, the playing of “Pomp and Circumstance,” and the conferring of degrees.

The graduating students even sang “Hail to California” via Zoom, and they also had their Minecraft avatars toss their caps into the air in celebration.

In addition to the educational figures at the graduation ceremony, Twitch co-founder Justin Kan and Mojang brand director Lydia Winters also gave speeches.

On a roll

Few games have rivaled Minecraft for success. The sandbox game was created by Markus “Notch” Persson back in 2009 and eventually released in 2011.

The game made him a billionaire when Microsoft bought Mojang, the company he co-founded, for US$2.5 billion[AU$3.8 billion] in 2014. Persson has an estimated net worth of $1.7 billion.

Minecraft is the most successful video game of all time. Over 200 million copies of the game have been sold over the years, and 126 million people play the game every month. Originally for the PC, the game has been ported over to consoles. Many people stuck at home due to COVID-19 are using the time to play the game.

Due to most schools closing during the coronavirus pandemic, Microsoft is making the Minecraft: Education Edition free to educators through the end of June.

Image courtesy of Anthony Hall/Unsplash

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