USC Minecraft version of campus
Students who missed campus re-created University Park Campus for their fellow USC students in Minecraft. (Picture Courtesy of Alastair Morrison)

Do you miss USC’s tree-lined walkways and brick buildings? So do some video game-loving Trojans.

As the COVID-19 pandemic sent most students home, a group of studens started building their version of the University Park Campus in the online game Minecraft. Its players gather wood, stone and brick to build expansive virtual worlds where they can mingle with other players.

“We really wanted to create a sense of community for USC, and Minecraft is a really good place to do that,” says rising junior Andrew Obeso, events director with the USC Esports Union. “You can have everyone come together and do something awesome like this.”

The ambitious project is the brainchild of Oliver Scott, a journalism student who writes about video games for USC Annenberg Media. He approached Obeso and other students involved with USC Games, one of the country’s top-ranked game design programs.

“He pitched this concept of building a one-to-one replica of campus,” Obeso says. “We thought, what a cool idea.”

With backing from the USC School of Cinematic Arts in the form of an online server to host the project, the crew got to work, piecing campus together one brick at a time. They used reference photos and satellite images from Google Earth in their quest for precision.

By early May, the student team had built about 30% of campus, including a sword-wielding Tommy Trojan striking his triumphant pose in Hahn Plaza. Obeso is hopeful that the remaining corners of the campus will be done by the time fall semester starts in August. He already envisions adding USC Village and other landmarks to the map.

“As long as people are still interested, we’re going to keep building,” he says.

If you have a Minecraft account, you can take a stroll along Trousdale Parkway and explore other areas of the virtual campus. Just join the USC Minecraft team’s Discord account and request permission to enter.