British Museum to be recreated in Minecraft


Minecraft, to those unfamiliar with the title, is an open world “sandbox” style game about building stuff with blocks.  It is, essentially, a limitless Lego set.  It is also a global cultural phenomenon.

Since its official release in 2011, Minecraft has sold a total of over 54 million copies across just about every gaming platform that you can think of (PC, iOS, Android, Xbox 360, PS3, Xbox One, and PS4) and the Swedish company behind the game, Mojang, was recently bought by the tech giant Microsoft for $2.5 billion (£1.5 billion).

Many ambitious players from around the world have built incredibly detailed replicas of global landmarks – like the Eiffel Tower – while others have recreated their favourite places from fiction – like the truly astonishing recreation of the world of Westeros from Game of Thrones – and some government agencies have even gotten involved.

Earlier this year, the Danish Geodata Agency launched a full 1:1 scale recreation of the country in Minecraft and the British Ordnance Survey has constructed a map in the game that recreates 224,000 square kilometres of the UK.  Now the British Museum in London has offered its support to a project to create a digital facsimile of the institution – and its exhibits – in the game.

The Museum – which receives almost six million visitors a year and houses eight million historic objects – is currently staging a “Museum of the Future” scheme that they hope will encourage discussion about the role that technology plays in public education and to expand its appeal amongst the general public; especially kids and teenagers.  An employee of the British Museum recently posted details of the venture on the social media site Reddit and asked for volunteers to get involved.

“The museum should/will be providing a server, once I’ve proved it’s a viable project, and we have Museum Minecraft players lined to help (although they are few and far between)”, they said.

They received an enthusiastic response from Minecraft players around the world and are hoping to have completed the first stage of the build – the digital recreation of the Great Court and façade of the building – by 16 October to coincide with a public debate entitled “Changing public dialogues with museum collections in the digital age”.

In an interview with the BBC, Ed Barton – who researches gaming for the independent analytics firm Ovum – stated that this project would help the British Museum to be “perceived as something fun” and that it would serve as a valuable educational tool for young gamers.

“What a cool project it would be to be asked to build the Elgin Marbles in Minecraft,” he said in reference to some of the more famous objects housed in the Museum such as the Elgin Marbles, Rosetta Stone and Sutton Hoo helmet.

“It’s the digital equivalent of building the British Museum in Lego.  You have to build it brick by brick”, he said.  Barton added that the institution should be commended for crowdsourcing the project “as it turns into a collaborative thing” and could, as the institution hopes, engage young Minecraft fans in the work of the British Museum.


Accessed 24-09-2014


Female Gamers Outnumber Male, Study Shows


A new study into the nation’s gaming habits has found evidence suggesting that more women play games than men.  The survey of 4,058 people in the UK aged 8-74 was commissioned by the Internet Advertising Bureau (IBAUK) and conducted by the independent research agency Populus.  After questioning the participants of the study via online surveys in June 2014, the research agency conducted 30-minute face-to-face interviews with 22 gamers and four industry experts to support their findings.

The research asserts that 52% of the people who have played some form of videogame in the last six months were female.  The study also indicates that more people over the age of 44 are playing games (27% of the total game audience) than children aged 8-17 (accounting for only 22%).

To many – particularly those who think of gaming as the preserve of teenage boys – these findings must seem surprising; especially due to the hyper-aggressive marketing of many big-budget AAA games that are already brimming with machismo (the Call of Duty and Halo series’ being perhaps the most famous examples).  The vast growth in popularity of gaming within certain portions of the population is not due to any change in direction from the AAA world however and is instead driven by the popularity of tablets and smartphones.  These mobile platforms have made videogames significantly more accessible and convenient than ever before and the survey found that 54% of those who participated played games on their smartphones and a quarter of those people played on their phones every day.

“The internet and mobile devices have changed the gaming landscape forever,” says Steve Chester, Director of Data & Industry Programmes at the Internet Advertising Bureau. “They’ve brought down the barriers to entry, making gaming far more accessible and opened it up to a whole new audience. In the past you needed to go out and buy an expensive console and the discs on top to get a decent experience, now you can just download a free app.”

This factor coupled with the swathes of intuitive and – at least nominally – free puzzlers (like Angry Birds or Candy Crush Saga) and social games (like Farmville) available as mobile apps has driven the rise in popularity of games.

The survey found that 33% of the total people asked named trivia, word, and puzzle games as their favourite genre while 56% of women 45 and over and half of women aged 25-44 prefer puzzle games.

Free-to-play puzzle games on mobile platforms driving the growing popularity of games in the UK mainstream

When it comes to the amount of time spent playing games, the average 8-15 year old gamer plays for roughly 20 hours a week while the average gamer aged 16 and over plays games for around 11 hours a week.  According to the survey, the average Briton spends six hours per week playing games which accounts for around 11% of their total media consumption in a typical week – roughly the same share accounted for by social media and only slightly less than listening to music (14%).

The study also reported that the UK gaming audience has now hit 33.5 million people of all ages (that’s 69% of the population).  So it would seem that videogames, of one kind or another, are now well and truly mainstream and it will be interesting to see what these trends mean for the future of the games industry.


Accessed 18-09-2014