Arts, Features

BU arts, gaming join forces to host Minecraft block party

DJ Zander played live music in the Tsai Performance Center on Friday, but the event wasn’t held in the College of Arts and Sciences building. Instead, he performed in a Minecraft replica of the auditorium during the BU Block Party, hosted by BU Arts Initiative and BU Gaming Club.

The Boston University Arts Initiative collaborated with BU Gaming Club on Friday to host a Minecraft block party DJed by DJ Zander in a virtual replica of the Tsai Performance Center. LAURYN ALLEN/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

The Tsai Performance Center isn’t the only location replicated on Minecraft — the BU Gaming Club has been working on a block-style replica of the entirety of Commonwealth Avenue.

CAS senior Jithvan Ariyaratne, BU Gaming Club’s media coordinator, said the group has been working on the project since before the University sent students home in Spring.

“When we first actually put up the server, it was February of last year. We realized that we wanted to have more variety in BU Gaming Club,” Ariyaratne said. “We just started putting things together based off what we saw [on campus].”

The BU Arts Initiative approached the club over the summer about hosting events in the digitized Tsai Performance Center, Ariyaratne said. Once the semester started, builders began working on the Minecraft venue while the Initiative scheduled the time and the performer.

Alex Zhuang, who also goes by DJ Zander, is a second-year medical student at BU. He said he has been interested in DJing since his freshman year of undergraduate study at Boston College.

Zhuang said the livestream “went pretty smoothly” — he used Discord, a video call server, and Twitch, an online gaming streaming platform, to perform his hour-long virtual music set.

“It was a lot of fun,” Zhuang said.

For students without Minecraft accounts, Ariyaratne worked the camera through Twitch. Other gaming club members moderated the chat, both on Twitch and in-game.

The stream, which Zhuang said reached about 70–80 viewers, consisted of electronic dance music that he compiled and transitioned to create a smooth and exciting listening experience, he said.

Ariyaratne said he had fun listening to the music while he was recording.

“I enjoyed it,” Ariyaratne said, “because Alex was actually playing some good songs and his playlist was pretty good.”

One builder in BU Gaming Club, 2019 College of Communication and CAS alumna Ashley Griffin, said she joined the club last week as a creative outlet to help with the recreation of Commonwealth Avenue. She built the lobby of 10 Buick St. and laid the groundwork for Danielsen Hall.

“Immediately, I thought [the block party] was a really cute idea, because it’s a great way to bring students together while we’re in Learn from Anywhere,” Griffin said. “I’ve been gaming a lot more than usual, because I think it’s just a great way to connect with old friends, meet some new friends and hang out with strangers.”

Ariyaratne said he hopes the Commonwealth Avenue replica can be used for other events. Since expanding its map to include the Medical Campus, the club’s Minecraft world includes a 13-by-13-mile radius around BU’s campus. This summer, the map had also hosted a virtual graduation event.

“[The replica] pretty much encompasses the entirety of the city, the entirety of Cambridge, the entirety of Lynn. It’s huge,” Ariyaratne said. “The Minecraft world that we have right now is such a big asset for a lot of people.”

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