This article first appeared in the Belen Jesuit Alumni Magazine, Summer 2021 edition.
There are two things that I have always admired about the Belen Jesuit community: 1) the way in which a student, alumnus, or faculty member’s productivity increases a thousandfold when they’re against the clock for a deadline and 2) the way in which our Band of Brothers always finds some amusing and captivating way to bring our community together. In this case, it’s the story of how a group of Belen students worked together to recreate our campus on Minecraft -- the world’s best-selling video game which allows users to create and explore their own world in a 3D “Lego-esque” universe.
It all started during Labor Day weekend of 2019, when Hurricane Dorian was headed straight for Miami (or so we thought), and many were forced to stay home for the weekend. Adrián Cícero ‘21 and Eduardo González del Valle ‘21 found themselves playing Minecraft during this time, and spontaneously created a mini-model of the Saladrigas Art Gallery in the game. “Haha, this is awesome. What if we actually built this?”, said Eduardo jokingly. To which Adrián replied, “wait… that is actually a great idea.” And without hesitation, Adrián decided to reach out to Adriano Arias ‘21, the President of the D20 club, and asked for support in hosting a server to start this project.
Initially, Adrián says the team of about 20 students got off to a hot start. Within the first week, the team had built the outer parts of the school -- including our athletic facilities such as the de la Cruz Stadium, Hernández Field, baseball fields, gym, and the Gian Zumpano Aquatic Center, as well as our parking lot and entrance to the Roca Theater. However, it was during this process that Matthew Torres ‘21 caught a small error in the measurements. Given the strict geometric nature of Minecraft, the build consisted mainly of perfect cubes. Here, Matthew realized that the crew had been miscalculating measurements of diagonals in the outline. What did he do? What any 7th grade Pre-Algebra teacher would expect you to do: use the Pythagorean Theorem. Who knew it would come in handy outside the classroom? From that point forward, Matthew spent the remainder of the build with a calculator in hand, dividing block counts by the square root of two and using Google Earth as his visual aid.
Unfortunately, the crew became discouraged when the school year began to pick up towards the end of the 1st semester and into the 2nd, while the intricacies of the school’s structure became a challenge for these Minecraft architects. This led to what the builders called a hiatus on the project, which would not be picked up again until October of 2020 when students were finally able to return to campus for the first time since March. I like to believe that it was this crucial moment of seeing each other again that motivated the team to pick up the project once again and finish it for good.
And from there, they went full throttle until the end of this January. Adrián and Matthew worked tirelessly perfecting all the little details of our school, from the Dining Hall, to the Roberto C. Goizueta Innovation Center, to the Arroyo Quad. It was all lining up. While they did this, Adriano worked with Manuel Morín ‘21 on “texture packages.” These packages are essentially custom-made colors and textures for the different building blocks that Manny and Adriano would create on the Procreate app, since Minecraft only had a limited number on their game. This was a tedious, pixel-by-pixel editing process.
Now, the guys joke that the Minecraft version of Belen is “more complete” than the current version, as it already has the Our Lady of Belen Chapel and the Gonzaga Pit fully installed.
This crew of “Minecraft architects” pulled off an incredible feat in recreating Belen -- a perfect example of what our brotherhood can accomplish when we put our heads together. The project files to access Belen in Minecraft are available at belenjesuit.org/minecraft