‘Pretty cool thing to do.’ Gamer is building Minecraft replica of downtown Toronto

‘Pretty cool thing to do.’ Gamer is building Minecraft replica of downtown Toronto

A longtime Toronto resident has taken up the challenge of designing a replica of the city on Minecraft — and he’s already polished off more than a dozen downtown blocks, a subway station and the Fairmont Royal York.

The project isn’t entered into a competition or submitted as an end-of-year school project. According to the gamer, he’s just doing it because it’s a “pretty cool thing to do.”

‘GamefruitPulp,’ a local YouTuber, started the project with a handful of friends in April 2017 on Minecraft, a popular video game that encourages players to build, wander and design to their heart’s content.

Today we took a break from specific build showcases to take a look at the entire city that we have built so far. The progress hasn’t been as quick as I would have hoped when I started the project, but the progress has still been something to be proud of.

He said he’s proud of the project, but didn’t want to disclose his full name to the Star in case his “colleagues found out.”

The borders of his fully-scaled cyber city extend from Church Street in the east to York Street in the west, and from Adelaide Street West to the train tracks.

For the most part, every building is replicated on the outside and the inside. Viewers can go inside the Royal York, for example, and take in the hotel’s glamorous lobby, bar and rooftop garden.

Union Station remains under construction both in real life and online.

Viewers can go inside the Royal York, for example, and take in the hotel's glamorous lobby, bar and rooftop garden.

Where did the inspiration for the ambitious, multi-year “build” come from? Tinkering with Lego and Thomas the Tank Engine routes as a kid, the gamer said. But it’s also the allure of a good, old-fashioned challenge.

“I’ve been playing Minecraft since 2013, but I found my interests changing, and I wanted to challenge myself with a bigger project,” he told the Star. “Having spent most of my life in Toronto, I decided that trying to recreate the entire city would be a pretty cool thing to do.”

The online city sparkles with detail and grandeur, featuring buildings as intricate as the TD Centre as well as a smattering of other, more subtle sites like the downtown GO station, numerous restaurants and pubs — even a Tim Horton’s.

The King TTC station is also done, with the rest of the underground network on the to-do list.

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A snap of the downtown GO station on Minecraft.

Gregg Lintern, the City of Toronto’s chief planner, told the Star that the initiative “demonstrates how much people have become engaged in this city, its history, the changes all around us and our future.”

The building process has been documented on YouTube, where nearly 50 videos show the creeping development of an empty map into a full-fledged metropolis.

The most glaring omission from the online map — apart from raccoons, litter and other Toronto staples — is the CN Tower which, according to the project’s architect, was unavoidable.

“Going forward, we might have an issue because the height limit in Minecraft doesn’t allow us to build the CN Tower, so we’re hoping the game will be updated by the time we get there,” he said.

Ted Fraser

Ted Fraser is a breaking news reporter, working out of the Star’s radio room in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter at @ted_fraser.

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