Senior Archivist at the Hull History Centre, Simon Wilson (left) and TEL Advisor, Joel Mills (right), have been working together on a collaborative project to recreate the work of Bridlington Architect, Francis Johnson in the virtual world of Minecraft.
They have just secured funding from the Ferens Education Trust to extend the project to the end of 2017.
Throughout the summer, the Hull History Centre held a series of “Family Fun” days that encouraged people to engage with the archival drawings and plans from this important local architect. The activities included drawing, painting, model making and Lego building. With the involvement of the TEL team supported by Hannah Rice, who is working at the History Centre on the HLF funded Transforming Archives programme, this expanded in to the virtual world of Minecraft as another channel for people to get involved. To get things started, Hannah created a virtual version of the History Centre around which the HullCraft world is created. (She also built the models of Steve and Creeper in the picture.)
The team set up a website complete with plans to download of varying difficulty, for people to construct in the game that has sold over 17 million copies since its release in 2009. Digital badges are awarded based on the complexity of the build undertaken with completed buildings posted on to a gallery on the website.
“We wanted to look at the gamification of learning and use this as a model of engagement for people to get involved in buildings and objects of significance in the region whilst having fun and using a medium that they are comfortable working in.” said Joel Mills of the TEL team.
The team approached the Ferens Education Trust for funding to build a Minecraft world on an online server and put together a series of workshops, talks and events that will bring the collections held at the History Centre to a wider audience.
Simon Wilson said “the archive collections at the History Centre offer countless possibilities of recreating iconic buildings – whether it is the Citadel, the Prudential Tower that was destroyed in the blitz, the Deep or the University campus. The funding from The Ferens Education Trust will allow us to develop these ideas and work with teachers to engage users in this aspect of Hull in the run-up to City of Culture”.
The funding will also allow the University to equip a computer lab with 30 MinecraftEDU licenses and this will be a valuable teaching and research resource for anyone interested in the role games have to play in modern teaching and learning.
“This is a really exciting initiative and we have already had interest from other Crafters within the University who are keen to explore what we can do at undergraduate and post graduate level with Minecraft.” says Joel.
Minecraft has been used across disciplines and at all levels. Current high profile projects in the news include recreating the British Museum in Minecraft, Tate-Worlds (reimagining works of art in Minecraft) and Mapping the whole of Great Britain by the Ordnance Survey.