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Mapping agency recreates entirety of Great Britain in Minecraft

Mapping agency recreates entirety of Great Britain in  Minecraft
September 24, 2013 | By Mike Rose

September 24, 2013 | By Mike Rose
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing

Ordnance Survey, the national mapping agency for Great Britain, and one of the largest producers of maps in the world, has recreated the entirety of mainland Great Britain and its surrounding islands in Mojang's Minecraft.

The company used its OS OpenData information for the islands to build the world, putting together a computer program that would convert the map data into a Minecraft Anvil file format.

Each style of road and land-type was converted into a specific type of Minecraft block -- for example, highways are made of diamond blocks, while b-roads are constructed from pumpkin. Over 22 billion blocks make up the map.

When the free download is booted up, the map starts you off at the head offices for the Ordnance Survey -- a service on the company's official website allows you to search for locations and postcodes, and receive a grid reference that corresponds to the area in the Minecraft map.

Gemma Nelson at Ordnance Survey told Gamasutra that the OS Labs team has been exploring the possibilities of new ideas for the OS OpenData system, when summer intern Joseph Braybrook brought up the idea of building the map in Minecraft.

"We discovered he was an avid Minecraft fan and we decided to explore the potential educational benefits of the popular video game," she says. "We decided to build a Minecraft world using free-to-use OS OpenData products to display the landscape and terrain of Great Britain."

"We do think there is potential for use in education and have already seen a number of geography teachers and parents discussing this on social media this morning," she continues. "We havent explored this any further as yet, but it's certainly of interest to our Education team."

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