Nova Scotia

Halifax teen working to 'Build the Earth' in Minecraft

A Halifax teenager is one of thousands of people working to recreate the earth on a 1:1 scale in the popular video game Minecraft.

Thousands of gamers looking to recreate the world in popular game

Halifax's iconic clock tower on Citadel Hill — as seen in the Minecraft world. (Robert Finbow)

A Halifax teen is helping a group of gamers recreate Earth one block at a time.

Robert Finbow is one of thousands of people from across the world working on Build the Earth, a project that aims to build the world on a 1:1 scale in Minecraft, a popular video game.

If it could be completed, said Finbow, "It would be a huge, historical event … in the gaming community to do something so huge together in a game that means so much to so many people."

The Build the Earth project began after a YouTuber who goes by the username PippenFTS made a video saying there was a way to modify the game to use Google Maps to create the terrain of the entire earth in the Minecraft world.

PippenFTS's video, which has garnered more than 11 million views since it was posted in March, asked users to join him in building man-made structures to create a replica of Earth.

Finbow was inspired by the idea, and since it happened in the midst of the COVID-19 lockdown, he had plenty of time to get to work.

"We were tired of being locked out from the outside, so we made our own outside," he said.

Project looking for more builders

Build the Earth participants largely communicate through Discord, a free messaging platform. Canada's Discord server has more than 800 people.

As Finbow is one of the lead people on Canada's team, he said he has many other duties on top of building. But right now, he's working on a replica of Halifax's Citadel Hill area.

 "I thought it was a very iconic part of Halifax," he said.

A view of Citadel Hill from downtown Halifax, which is a work in progress by multiple builders. (Robert Finbow)

He began by creating the clock tower that sits at the top. It then took about a month to build the trenches.

While it's a work in progress, Finbow said he has most of the foundation down. He's also built the majority of nearby Citadel High School.

The project has given Finbow a deeper understanding of the city, he said.

There's a global effort underway to recreate the earth in the game of Minecraft. Information Morning's Erin MacInnis went online to meet one of the builders and get a tour of Halifax. 9:00

"I would say I know it very well now," he said. "Sometimes I'll be out and about and I'll see a building and I'll be like, 'I recognize that, I made that!'"

He's also worked on building in other places around the world, such as Singapore, North Korea and Antarctica.

Nova Scotia's building community is still very small and a lot of the work in the province has been done by Finbow and one other person.

Finbow said it took about a month to build the trenches on Citadel Hill. (Robert Finbow)

A map of the current projects on the Build the Earth website shows a handful of works-in-progress around Nova Scotia, most of which are in Halifax.

Some people work on the project casually, said Finbow, and others are much more dedicated.

"There's a lot of great people in the project who work their butts off, going hours a day building. They're really passionate about it," he said. 

"But you don't exactly need to be a super professional skilled person to be doing this kind of stuff. It's kind of just like drawing something off a photo … it's easier than it might seem. Anyone can be a part of it."

A view of the Halifax Central Library, built by one of Nova Scotia's main builders. (Robert Finbow)

Finbow has been playing Minecraft since it came out a decade ago, when he was still a young child. While he played the game a lot, he never considered himself a "huge player" — until now.

"Now that I've joined this project, I practically play it more than any other game," he said. "I'm definitely a bigger Minecraft player than I ever have been."

Finbow said the project is always looking for new people to take part. He believes it will take a long time to complete.

"It could take quite a few years, or it could take maybe over a decade or two," he said. "It's uncertain. But it all depends on how many people we get."

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About the Author

Alex Cooke

Reporter/editor

Alex is a reporter living in Halifax. Send her story ideas at alex.cooke@cbc.ca.

With files from Erin MacInnis

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