SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – If one thing has proven true since the COVID-19 pandemic began more than 13 months ago it's that screen time has dramatically increased and for millions of people around the world – including more than a 1,000 New Jerseyeans - that extra time online has been spent designing and recreating the earth on Minecraft.

Among those taking part in the worldwide BuildtheEarth effort is South Plainfield resident Ryan Carey who, last August, joined the 'New Jersey Build Team' and has been working to recreate Rutgers University's Livingston Campus. 

"This project focuses on using Minecraft to rebuild the entire earth on a 1:1 scale as accurately as possible," said Carey, a 2019 graduate of South Plainfield High School and sophomore majoring in environmental business economics at Rutgers.

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BuildTheEarth, which was launched last spring by PippenFTS, a well-known gamer and Seattle-based Youtuber, is being promoted as the 'largest and most expansive build project to ever have been attempted in Minecraft.' One block in Minecraft equates to roughly one meter in the real world and, as a result, the 'project will fully recreate the size of our planet.' 

BuildtheEarth is open to anyone to join and contribute; currently, there are over 4,000 ongoing build projects, which together cover about 6,000 square kilometers. The 'New Jersey Build Team' currently includes more than 1,200 members who are currently working to recreate towns, right down to their tree-lined streets, parks, landmarks, buildings, schools, and roadways using only the 256 different types of blocks available in the game. 

Carey, son of Scott and Eileen, began his design around the campus' basketball stadium and, over the past nine months, has completed approximately three-quarters of the campus, including the new RWJ Barnabas Athletic Center, apartment complexes, quads, student center, academic and facilities halls, parking lots, solar panels and more. He is currently working on various facilities and operation buildings. 

Users can type in the coordinates on Google Maps to begin constructing in a specific New Jersey location; for situations in which the satellite maps are not up to date, a trip to the site may be necessary. Such was the case, said Carey, when it came to constructing the campus' new athletic center.

 "The cool thing about the project is that sometimes the map data isn’t up-to-date or accurate and that may require you to drive to the site, get outside, and take pictures. It's a lot of research and a lot of fun. I've sort of become an unofficial historian of the Livingston Campus. You learn about the area, history, geography, topography, satellite footage and more," Carey said, noting that he had an interest in recreating the college campus after the healthcare crisis forced him to move out of the dorms last spring. "It helps me feels like I am still there." 

Last week, Carey took a step away from his Rutgers rebuild and turned his attention back to his hometown, creating Minecraft's first South Plainfield building – a replica of his alma mater. Constructing South Plainfield High School, he said, took about two and a half hours and is showcased in this minute-long time-lapse video.

"Recreating the entire world is going to take a really long time and I would love for the project to get more attention," Carey said, encouraging others to join the effort and noting that a Minecraft version of the South Plainfield's helicopter would be 'awesome.' "It is fun, but a lot of work and the more people who get involved will exponentially increase the time it takes for completion tenfold. The more people that join, the better this will be."

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