What does the Maastricht Faculty of Law look like in a virtual world? Now that the majority of staff and students works and studies from home, some are looking for a way to create a community. How? By building the Faculty of Law in Minecraft, a popular computer game.
The plan sprang into the minds of some Law & Tech Lab employees. The Lab conducts research and develops education at the intersection of law and technology. “A group of nerds,” says Catalina Goanta, assistant professor involved in the Minecraft initiative, with a wink. Normally people come together in the faculty, talk about work and private matters: if all that falls away, says Goanta, we must look for alternatives stay connected.
The team now consists of about seven employees and students, but anyone with a UM e-mail address is invited to create a Minecraft account (education edition). “Think of it as a shared passion that leads to a new community,” says Goanta. “If you want, you can keep in touch through Discord while playing.” Apart of that there will be weekly online meetings with the Minecraft-crew.
Minecraft is a computer game in which players can build and invent in an unexplored area; they can let their imaginations run wild. There are cubic building objects, animals, water, lava, stones, wood, concrete, glass, trees, plants, even bookshelves. Building a city is possible, as is Disney World, a zoo or an island.
However, the initiative is not only intended as a community builder. It will also work as a marketing tool if first year students cannot or do not want to come to Maastricht. “They still can ‘enter’ the building.” There are also other ideas to bind students to the law faculty. For example, a late night talk show about campus life on YouTube. The first recording is in the making, says Goanta.
Good to know for those who love to play Minecraft, but have never taken a step in the faculty (and have no idea where the central staircase or the dean’s office is located): no problem, own creativity is welcomed. “We have torches in the common room. Never seen them in reality over there,” laughs Goanta. “And who knows, with all the new ideas we may also stimulate the imagination of our board.” What about a swimming pool, roller coaster or fountain in the garden, dean Smits?