23 Apr 2015

Students build Gallipoli in Minecraft

10:21 am on 23 April 2015

Dozens of Auckland teenagers have spent thousands of hours painstakingly recreating a virtual version of 1915 Gallipoli.

Screenshot of Gallipoli in Minecraft world created by Alfriston College students

A screenshot of the virtual Gallipoli created in Minecraft Photo: Supplied

Students from Alfritson College used collections of photos, maps and stories from the Auckland War Museum to build Gallipoli within popular game Minecraft, which allows players to construct buildings and landscapes.

Visit 'The War to End All Wars': Radio New Zealand's Anzac 2015 Interactive

The museum is featuring the finished product in an exhibition to help young people learn about the stories of the First World War.

The students, who have been working on the project for over a year, had already built a copy of their own school in Minecraft but said this was their most ambitious work yet.

The teacher overseeing the project, Mark Sutherland, said building in Minecraft was like painting a picture.

"You start off with a blank canvas and the kids have to go away and research and then they have to fill it and add more detail as they go along," he said.

"So they start off with basic landscape, do research, add basic things in and add more detail until they have a finished product."

He said using technology was a good way for students to learn about historical events.

"At the moment, it's sometimes a little bit difficult to inform kids of historical events because we're not talking the same language as they are," he said.

"Using technology, such as Minecraft, we can actually engage in conversation with them because it's a language they understand."

'Better than normal school'

The students went on weekend trips to the museum where they took part in re-enactments and learned about soldiers' experiences.

The museum's school programme co-ordinator Wendy Burne said students used the knowledge to make the virtual landscape as accurate as possible.

"Our main aim was to use our staff and our collections to help paint the picture of the New Zealand soldier, allowing students to learn a bit about history through accessing collection objects and different staff members to unpack different stories about what the conditions were like."

Archival image of Anzac Cove (1915) from Auckland Museum collections that inspired students.

One of the archival images used to help inspire the students Photo: Auckland War Memorial Museum

Kreesan Reddy, who was one of the 35 students who helped create the world, said he learned more about World War I because he was having fun.

"It's better than normal school because I guess you're interacting with other people, and you're using the computers and technology and learning about the past. [It] makes history more interesting, I guess, rather than the boring old teaching method we have in class."

He said being involved in the project made him appreciate the efforts of the soldiers.

"From what I learnt, I was able to understand the hardship and the pain they faced in Gallipoli. Now I really understand the sacrifice they made for us and it really make me think we should be respecting them and honouring them every Anzac Day."

The Minecraft Gallipoli exhibition opens on 24 April and the interactive guide will be available from Anzac Day.