September 18, 2020

POSTED BY

Anabelle Accetta-Beman

CATEGORY

Minecraft Is An Art Platform

Illegal Architecture render

You’ve heard of Minecraft before—-you know, that one video game your daughter is obsessed with, with the exploding green monsters and weird blue diamonds. But Minecraft is more than just a kid’s game with a pixelated aesthetic—-it’s an artistic platform that gives its users the ability to build anything, and …

A render of "Illegal Architecture," showing many overlapping buildings from different architectural styles

You’ve heard of Minecraft before—-you know, that one video game your daughter is obsessed with, with the exploding green monsters and weird blue diamonds. But Minecraft is more than just a kid’s game with a pixelated aesthetic—-it’s an artistic platform that gives its users the ability to build anything, and I mean anything. The sky’s the limit, especially for architectural designs—-from dirt houses to the Taj Mahal to the entire city of London, there’s practically nothing that hasn’t been built in Minecraft yet.

So how does this work? Well, Minecraft is a sandbox game, meaning that you have full creative freedom and can build whatever you imagine—-a gothic-style cathedral, a giant medieval castle, or something that can’t be built in real-life, like Ihou Kenchiku, meaning “Illegal Architecture.” Built by 145 people, this appropriately-named city combines things like Japanese pagodas with American apartment buildings to create a fantastical display of creativity, unbothered by gravity or physics. Other well-known builders include Grian, Fyre, and JeraCraft, who create videos displaying their personal projects as well as tutorial videos about different building techniques. Their works include underground cave houses, giant train stations, and the Lost City of Atlantis, all of which can be found on their respective YouTube channels.

Illegal Architecture, full render of the entire build
Another render of "Illegal Architecture," showing a close up of the upper half of the build
Minecraft allows for real-time collaboration, meaning that multiple people can work on the same project at once, something that isn’t entirely practical in real life. The Minecraft building community is huge and constantly growing, with thousands of servers involving millions of players who have invested probably tens of thousands of hours into the game.

Some people use add-on programs like World Painter and WorldEdit, called “mods” (short for modifications). These allow players to mold and sculpt terrain, manipulate blocks like they were clay, and change a build’s color and materials. Because Minecraft is played in first-person, the experience is more intimate, and is not dissimilar to creating something in real life.

JeraCraft's "Kingdoms of Greymane 2020," showing a port city surrounded by mountains
JeraCraft's "April Fools World," showing a large tower at the center with chains and finger-like appendages
JeraCraft's "World's Biggest Minecraft Tree," showing a ginormous custom tree with bridges and small buildings around it
James Delaney, an architecture student from Cambridge University in the UK, recognizes Minecraft as “a CAD tool,” explaining the potential that the game has for design, architecture, and education in these fields: “The architects and designers of today grew up playing with LEGO and wooden blocks, and I have no doubt that many of tomorrow’s creators will have experienced Minecraft in their childhood.”

So remember, kids—-the world is your oyster and your oyster is pixelated.

Images © 2020 Mojang / Plantminecraft.com, JeraCraft