Virtual UR Grand Opening

Virtual UR opened its Minecraft doors to the public Friday, May 15 for a Grand Opening Event.

The night began with a special VIP Zoom tour of the Minecraft world, where each world developer offered insight into how and why they built the virtual University buildings the way they did. Each developer had the freedom to add their own creative style to campus, from an a capella-themed Rush Rhees Library to a pumpkin version of George Eastman. Much like the physical University of Rochester, our virtual buildings are shaped by the creative leaders who use these spaces every day.

Leading the tour was a virtual Yellowjacket, a salute to the UR student tour guides – Meridians – who would normally be seen traversing campus with a smile and a Rochester sweatshirt.

An image of Rocky on the wall with a virtual tour guide facing it.
A virtual “tour guide” stands next to an early image of the UR mascot, Rocky, on the wall of the tunnel system.

The tour started on the Eastman Quad and quickly moved through the remainder of the virtual campus – from Rush Rhees Library, on to Wilson Commons, and across the Wilson Quad to first-year quad housing. It ended with the tunnel system beneath the Eastman Quad, including a special tribute to the Class of 2020, pictured below.

The front of the painted tunnel system, as viewed from the tunnel entrance near Rettner Hall.

Shortly after the tour, access to the Minecraft world became public. Emotional messages began pouring in from all corners of the University community as many of them saw their Rochester home for the first time in months, or even years.

We heard the voices of a sophomore and her friends, saying: “that’s where we lived this year! That’s our room!” We heard the voice of an alumnus saying: “thank you – for bringing me home again.” We heard the voice of a prospective student, telling us: “I never thought my first steps on campus would be in Minecraft…but I’m falling in love with the University just the same.”

These notes reminded our team that Virtual UR is no more a collection of blocks than the University is a collection of bricks. It’s a community and a home.