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What It's Like to Create an Underwater Museum in Minecraft

The creators of the Underwater Museum in Minecraft get together to dive the reefs of Peru.

Geronimo de Souza Ferreira

As a Peruvian journalist and underwater photographer, I am always thinking of different ways to spread awareness about our rich and unexplored sea. Reading the news, I saw a cultural gallery inside a videogame designed by Kioshi Shimabuku. Instantly, I recognized the potential of video games as a new platform for ocean education and conservation. I sent Shimabuku an email proposing the idea of using underwater pictures to illustrate and replicate the northern Peruvian Sea in the metaverse. I was overjoyed when he said yes.

Creating an Underwater Gallery in the Metaverse

After one year of working remotely, Kioshi designed a cultural island that showcases the depths of the Peruvian sea through my underwater photographs. Just like in real life, if you want to see the animals below the surface, you have to jump in the water to find them. It is a photographic exhibition in a videogame that aspires to educate the next generation about the great biodiversity of one of the richest oceans in the world and spread its protection needs.

Related Reading: How This Award-winning Underwater Photographer Got His Start by Volunteering

The avatars of the creators of the Underwater Museum pose in front of the whale gallery.

Kioshi Shimabuku

The exhibition is shown in parks in northern Peru, where children can play on a public computer–making it accessible to all. We are also collaborating with schools and teachers who have students who already play Minecraft to virtually show them the Museum and the tour. The exhibit is designed for children but is entertaining for all ages.

You might think that Minecraft is just a children's video game, but according to statistics from the company itself, the average age of the players is 24 years old. Kioshi Shimabuku, the builder of this Underwater Museum, explains, "It's like Lego, a timeless game that can be used by children but with adult knowledge, you can create magnificent things."

Panoramic view of the Underwater Museum. You can see its 3 galleries and viewpoint

Denisse Sotomayor

Three Themed Galleries

Humpback Whale Gallery

In the middle of the virtual ocean, the Humpback Whale Gallery provides information about the migration of these amazing marine mammals, which travel from Antarctica to the northern coast of Peru to reproduce and give birth in warmer water. In this space, you will see pictures of humpback whales breaching. One of my favourite parts of the design is a blue button which you can press to listen to a whale song recorded by marine biologists in northern Peru. You can enter the gallery by a transparent hallway, diving or even through jumping into the whale’s blowhole.

MX-1 Gallery

At the left, the replica of the most important artificial reef in the country: MX-1, has been built. Here you will explore the diverse ecosystem created around the reef and learn about the species that inhabit it through pictures. You will descend slowly by gravity, but if you want positive buoyancy, you can simply press the space bar–similar to adding air to a BCD. Click “W” and you will swim between corals and marine life represented by different colored squares.

Bubble Gallery

At the end of the pier, you can find the Bubble Gallery and discover pictures of species such as green turtles, pufferfish and pink corals with their Minecraft representations. On the basement floor, between the nudibranch and the sea horse, you'll find the avatars and real faces of the creators of this Museum: Kioshi and me.

Related Reading: How Marine Animals Are Playing a Vital Role in Saving Our Planet

Exteriors of the Bubble Gallery where you can see coastal marine animals.

Denisse Sotomayor

Engaging Details Throughout

To move around the museum, you can walk, swim, fly or even tele transport yourself between galleries. At the top of the jellyfish there is a book that, when opened, you will discover the size of the northern marine area that Peruvians want to protect: 116 thousand hectares. If you look up to the sky you will see a giant transparent manta ray, it is the viewpoint that you cannot miss. Beneath the sea, you can find the emblematic Krusty Krab but unfortunately no kraby patties.

The underwater photo gallery featuring the author's images taken at the MX-1 artificial reef in Peru.

Denisse Sotomayor

The Future of the Project

This Peruvian Underwater Museum aims to incorporate the marine diversity of the eleven coastal regions of the country into Minecraft. The first phase focuses on the north of Peru, in the Tropical Pacific Sea, the regions of Piura and Tumbes, which house over 70% of the country's marine biodiversity.

The second phase, currently in pre-production, is inspired by the south. In Arequipa, the department (similar to a U.S. state) with the longest coastline in Peru and the least explored. It is a popular tourist destination known for its mountains and volcanoes, but few know that the Andes begin in the depths of its waters. Diving in Arequipa means enjoying the submerged Andes formations among enormous kelp, fishes and colourful invertebrates that you can soon discover in the metaverse.

If you want to dive into the diversity of the Peruvian Sea, follow these steps:

Download Minecraft Java 1.19.2. Enter the server: msm.linkisland.art.

Happy square bubbles!