ready to build

Minecraft and SimRomanCity

First Experiences and Experiments

As someone who is very interested on alternative pedagogies I was very excited to start on the SimRomanCity project. However, I am new to coding, so I find that I am focusing on the adaptability of videogames and the ease of use rather than the actual coding. Video games and digital learning has changed and evolved. There are programs that allow for a certain freedom where an average student who may not want to code, but still enjoys alternative learning styles, can participate without needing to know complicated coding.

To start on the SimRomanCity project I wanted to make sure that I had somewhat of a preliminary idea of ancient Rome and its cities. I felt that this would help in focusing how SimCity would need to be changed and what it would need to be authentic and workable. To help with this I started up a Zotero library that all the fellows could use, creating a space where we could share and notate any important books or articles we found. It was thanks to Dr. Graham that I was able to figure out that to create a group you had to be on their website. For some reason you can not make or add people to a Zotero group on their desktop application. However, having the tool to add notes to any book or article and share is worth the extra step.

After a bit of research, and much learning, I was ready to dive into the world of modded games. As I am not familiar with coding games I wanted to try something that required only basic building and modding first. I was given access to the education version of Minecraft to explore the potential benefits of an open world building game. I felt that looking at a game that many people already have some familiarity with, and is relatively easy to mod, would be a perfect place for me to start. There are already many worlds in Minecraft that focus on education, so I was able to gain insight on the various ways in which others have used this resource. I was first interested in Minecraft as it gives the ability to not just create anything in any style, but also allows for an overhead view and a street view of any city built. My goal in this is to see if there are academic benefits to the Minecraft system for a class that focuses on Roman cities, or if there is anything we can take from it and use in SimCity to adapt it for our needs. Through preliminary playing and building I have realised it takes a lot of time. I was unable to make anything of substance, and I may have been a bit overwhelmed with all of the resources and blocks you could make and how they all worked together. However, I do see potential. So my next step is to investigate prebuilt worlds, to make things a little bit faster, and ways to place real world terrain into Minecraft through available modding tools.

Vanessa Finney
X-Lab Research Fellow

X-Lab Research Fellow