A local gamer and YouTuber is creating a tribute to Toronto on a whole other level — literally.
For over three years, a Torontonian who goes only by his online handle Gamefruitpulp, has been steadily building a 1:1 scale model of the city in the hugely popular video game, Minecraft – the single best-selling video game of all time.
Along with two other builders, Gamefruitpulp has painstakingly built a large portion of the downtown core block-by-block, including classic landmarks like the Fairmont Royal York Hotel and the Flatiron building as well as more modern skyline markers like the L Tower.
But it all started with Brookfield Place.
“I’d been playing the game for quite a few years and as I grew older my interests in the game were always changing and I found myself building Brookfield Place quite a few times, just in different worlds while I was doing other things” he tells CityNews. “I thought to myself ‘why not try and just build Toronto in general?’ … I thought it’d be a cool experiment to try and just keep expanding out from that block and see how far I got.”
He estimates they’ve put in well over a thousand hours into the game, which begs the question “where does he find the time?”
“It’s something that I enjoy doing and it’s sort of a thing to de-stress. After a long day I’ll sit down for an hour or two and although that doesn’t seem like a lot of time, when you do that two or three times a week, it really starts to add up,” he says.
As to why he started the project in the first place, he says he’s always been interested in architecture as a hobby and when he began playing video games as a child, he was immediately attracted to Minecraft and the architectural aspects of the game. But it was also the massive scope and capabilities of the game itself that kept him coming back to it and eventually led to map building.
“Usually when you play video games, you play something for a while and you lose interest. One of the unique things about Minecraft is that there’s so much that you can do in it and it’s like an infinite game where you can change up what you’re doing and because of that, I’ve used Toronto as a way to keep interested in the game.”
The major draw for a model like this is it’s interactive capabilities.
Other Minecraft players can join in and take a walk through this mini version of Toronto in the Java version of the game on the group’s public server: Toronto.Inizicraft.Net
In addition, regular updates are posted on YouTube – making the build accessible to non-gamers as well.
They’ve tried to make the model as accurate as possible, so much so, that Gamefruitpulp says it may even help you find your way around if you’re unfamiliar with the city.
“My dad actually had to come downtown one time for a meeting and he was like ‘where am I going?’,” he explains. “I said you’re taking the train to Union and everything in the area you’re going to is built (in the map).”
After taking a quick spin around the Minecraft map, he says his dad found his way quiet easily when he was actually on the ground.
Until recently the group was relying on a combination of Google Maps and Google Streetview along with a few available building schematics to match their virtual build with the real world. But with the project gaining popularity online, the group has been getting some spontaneous professional help.
“I’ve had some architects and urban planners reach out to me about an open Toronto website that the city has which contains all these different schematics and plans for buildings throughout the city. So going forward we’re going to try to use that as well because its the most accurate thing available,” he says.
Given that the model can give millions of Minecraft players around the world a taste of Toronto, CityNews reached out to Mayor John Tory about its potential to promote the city. He says he sees tremendous value in the project.
“I just want people to see the city and there’s, I think, 118 million people worldwide playing this game so it’s got to be something that could help further put us on the map. But what devotion on the part of the person doing the work,” Tory said.
While he doesn’t play the game himself, Tory said he’s familiar with how popular the game is and saw a lot of potential for the map to draw people to the city.
“It’s probably the most successful game in the world and that’s something you want Toronto to be a part of.”
“I believe that people are going to come to Toronto to visit, to invest, to live, when they see it. I think this is a great way to showcase the city.” –
Listen to Mayor John Tory’s full response below:
Gamefruitpulp says he’s humbled by the mayor’s endorsement and “blown away” by the response to the project after he posted about it on social news platform Reddit.
“It was something I was proud of, but I didn’t think it would be something that was so interesting to so many people,” he says, adding that some fans have said they bought the game simply to walk through his map.
“It’s not just people who play the game either it was people who had no idea what Minecraft was at all, people who know people who play or have kids that play.”
As their work garners more attention, the group is hoping to catch the attention of the developers of Minecraft so that they can finally build one of Toronto’s most iconic landmarks – the CN Tower.
The tower stands at a whopping 553 metres and Minecraft limits the height of builds to 256 blocks or metres.
“If we built it to 256 metres you’re looking at just an elevator,” he explains.
The group is hoping that as the project continues to grow in both scope and popularity, the creators of Minecraft will take notice and increase height limits in the next update.
There is no clear timeline for when the project will be completed but the goal is to build up to the Don Valley in the east and High Park in the west.
“If we reach that, I’d be satisfied with the project and think there isn’t really much work to be done after that and we can just keep going strictly out of interest and not out of goal setting,” he says.