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Dig It: The British Geological Survey's Minecraft Britain

I don't know. Scotland?

Some of you, our dear readers, saw the Ordnance Survey’s Minecraft scale version of Great Britain as an opportunity to terrorise portions of this green and pleasant land. Surrounding London with a magma moat was one popular idea, while someone wanted to smash North Ormesby. You are a curious lot. That was only a surface recreation, using the mapping agency’s data to recreate the layer we walk on, but now we can go deeper–either to learn more or to get really destructive.

Building on (or under) that OS scale-model world, the British Geological Survey have released their own Minecraft world with Britain down to the bedrock.

The map generalises the underlying geology then fills it with a Minecraft equivalent. Sandstones are Sandstone, obviously, while serpentinite is Emerald Ore because they look similar, metamorphic rocks are End Stone as it’s so tough, and so on. This is still imperfect, mind. The BGS Minecraft Britain assumes the geology stays the same from just beneath the surface all the way down, when it’s often a mish-mash of layers. “Watch this space!” they tease on that front.

It’s a shame that most video game recreations of real-world spaces are murderarenas. I’ve spent enough time in some FPS levels based on the mapper’s office to do the tea run or replace the copier toner (you would not believe the mundanity of my dreams), and have visited enough Disneyland versions of New York City that I’m confident I could lead a very shoddy guided tour. The only knowledge of them I really use is where to scurry for cover in a firefight. Video games!

I dig how this Minecraft world works with what the game is and does–digging and discovering. We find things which are, in reality, only metres away yet unknown to us. On a similar-ish note, I enjoyed Michael Rose last year on Gamasutra using SimCity to look at traffic problems of his hometown.

Download the British Geological Survey Minecraft world this-a-way. The world starts you at the GBS office in Cardiff, but if you’re looking to go somewhere specific the site has a map that’ll give you coordinates to jump to.

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Alice O'Connor

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When not writing news, Alice may be found in the sea.

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