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Open Access Publications from the University of California

One block at a time: selecting and preserving Blockeley University, a sandbox video game and community response to the COVID-19 pandemic

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Blockeley University is the collaborative effort of hundreds of students who in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, sustained their community by building the UC Berkeley campus in Minecraft, a sandbox video game. Their extraordinary effort is being preserved by The Bancroft Library. This presentation will discuss the selection of the collection and the challenges and opportunities in preserving this unique project.

The Blockeley effort was recognized by the Chancellor’s Office and a virtual commencement ceremony was conducted in the Blockeley University Minecraft server. Other universities have built their campuses in Minecraft before but what was extraordinary about this build was that it was an innovative effort to specifically keep the UC Berkeley community together during the shelter-in-place period. The Bancroft Library felt this was an effort worth preserving.

In this presentation, Kathryn M. Neal, The Bancroft Library’s Associate University Archivist, will discuss how she identified components of this project that should be preserved as historical evidence and Christina Velazquez Fidler, The Bancroft Library’s Digital Archivist will address the technical challenges in preserving the Blockeley server and all of its modifications, and lastly, the solution of a single player world file bundled with the texture packs that enabled the many modifications made. This solution resolved many questions including concerns surrounding the maintenance of the Blockeley server.

Together the world file, the promotional videos, the website, planning documents among other materials collectively make up the Blockeley University collection. The Blockeley University collection is a forward thinking collection, recording the work of hundreds of students and their efforts to maintain community during the Covid-19 pandemic.

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One block at a time: selecting and preserving Blockeley University