By John Ezekiel J. Hirro
The Covid-19 pandemic has forced schools in the country shut until the foreseeable future. However, the University of Santo Tomas (UST), located in the heart of coronavirus-hotspot Manila, is set to reopen — in the virtual world of Minecraft.
A group of 80 students from UST has recreated the university’s 21.5-hectare campus in the sandbox video game.
What started out as a boredom-induced gaming session of information technology sophomore Charles Nobleza eventually gave fruit to a project close that could potentially continue one of UST’s most famous traditions— the Thomasian Welcome Walk.
“Me and a couple of friends started to play Minecraft again due to the pandemic, tapos I joked na we should try to build UST. After that, I saw the academic calendar and saw na walang Thomasian Welcome Walk, so I decided to start building UST with my friends,” Nobleza, head of the UST Minecraft project, told PressOne.PH.
Nobleza started the project by building three of the university’s most famous landmarks: the Arch of the Centuries, the Miguel de Benavides Monument and the 92-year-old UST Main Building.
Two days after, on June 30, he turned to Twitter for help.
Hello we are understaffed and we would like to ask the help of fellow Thomasians who are playing Minecraft. 🧡
We’re making a UST server for our freshies so they can experience the Freshmen Walk and maybe a Tour. 🐯
DM me if you want to help us and maybe rt?
Thank you! 🙏🏽 pic.twitter.com/Lpaos8tdoP
— Teds (@tedszue) June 30, 2020
His call for help garnered more than 1,500 retweets and 50 replies, enough to form a team of 80 Thomasians.
The 80 students were divided into five teams: Builders, Assistants, Floor Planners, Interior Designers and Small Details.
Aside from the vast campus, Nobleza’s team will also recreate student dormitories and condominiums and famous food spots around UST.
His team even obtained floor plans of each building for reference.
Easter eggs, such as the iconic ID beep during building entry, college uniforms and UST apparel, even the cats scattered in the university, among many, will also be included in the Minecraft campus.
Missing UST or just want a place to chill? Join our server with your friends as we release your college skins to venture out and roam the world of Minecraft in UST.💛
— UST Minecraft (@minecraft_ust) July 20, 2020
“We want the students to have a real-life glimpse of the Thomasian collegiate life,” he said
As of July 20, the UST Minecraft campus is virtually complete, with only the interiors of buildings yet to be “furnished.”
Nobleza’s team has proposed to UST’s Central Student Council holding the Thomasian Welcome Walk in the Minecraft campus.
“They are down with the idea, and our team will join them in future meetings. We are just waiting if our proposal would be accepted by the UST admin itself,” he said.
The beta release of the Minecraft server will be on July 31, 2020.
On March 9, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno ordered the suspension of classes in the whole Metro Manila due to the Covid-19 threat. As a vaccine has yet to be developed and coronavirus cases continue to skyrocket, UST, among many other universities, shifted to online classes to replace the traditional face-to-face method.
“Minecraft has been dear to us since our youth, so I guess time off brought about by the pandemic gave us time to cool off and play it again. After all, in Minecraft and in life, anything is possible with your imagination,” Nobleza said.
Talk about bringing the “Bored In The House” trend to the next level!
Source of images: UST Minecraft