I’m rubbish at the building component of Minecraft; it’s much easier to simply download a map and wander around in the splendour of someone else’s creation. And if you’ve got the ray tracing beta version of Minecraft for Windows installed, I can heartily recommend you too take a wander through the Nvidia RTX Winter World: a vast, Christmassy and very, very pretty custom map that has you helping Santa throw a festive shindig while you trade sweets with his elves.
Commissioned by Nvidia and mine-crafted by competitive builder Ushio Tokura, the snowy, glowy wonderland is obviously intended to show off ray tracing capabilities of Nvidia’s best graphics cards. But there’s a charitable aspect too, and it was all put together – all 30- million-plus blocks of it – in support of Great Ormund Street Hospital for Children and their Christmas fundraising campaign.
Along with Santa’s grotto, an outrageously elaborate banquet hall and multiple festive fairground attractions, you can visit a replica of GOSH itself, to read up on the hospital’s history or scan a VR code that will take to you the campaign’s donation page.
It’s lovely stuff, and there’s more to do besides. A short series of fetch quests sees you and an appropriately rectangular Saint Nick lay on a Christmas feast, and if you wander off the beaten path you can explore a hedge maze, ride a rollercoaster or just chill with some friendly penguins. There’s also a functioning Christmas market, and a good one too – not like the ones I’m used to here in London that charge £14 for a hot dog. And I love how the different areas are contained within colossal snowglobes, connected a rail line you can ride in a choo-choo-train reskin of the standard minecart. No wonder it apparently took Tokura over 300 hours to build.
If you haven’t gone through the (admittedly rather fiddly) process of enabling RTX features in Minecraft, or you don’t have a graphics card that can support ray tracing, you can always donate to GOSH directly. To play RTX Winter World, download the .mctemplate file from Planet Minecraft, plonk it in Minecraft's world_templates folder, then choose it as a template when starting a new world.