A Regina teen has been digitally building the Queen City, block by block.
Nicholas Fuzesy, 16, is part of the "Build the Earth" project in the incredibly popular video game Minecraft, in whichplayers can "mine" 3D objects in the game world to create new environments.
The Build the Earth project started in March, with the goal of recreating the entire planet in the video game. Its relies on a modification that can track Google Earth data and put it into the Minecraft world, including streets and building outlines.
Builders have to apply to be added to the server and then can pick a region to create. They'll eventually be merged together to create the entire world in Minecraft.
For his application, Fuzesy created the Hill Towers. He was accepted immediately.
"I didn't think many people would be working on Regina," said Fuzesy. "I wanted to sort of do it on my own."
He's starting the job of creating the Minecraft version of Regina with the 12 blocks around Victoria Park. He's already created some of the city's most iconic buildings, like the Canada Life building, Blessed Sacrament and Hotel Saskatchewan.
His favourite so far is the SaskPower tower on Victoria Avenue.
The Grade 11 student, who attends Miller Comprehensive High School, said he first got into the game watching people play on YouTube. He decided to try it himself in 2014 and was hooked because of its versatility, he says.
The game can be played online alone or with friends, in survival mode (where players have to battle computer-controlled characters while collecting resources and building structures) or in creative mode (where players can freely build with unlimited tiles and no real threats).
At first, Fuzesy was joined by eight other builders from around the world working on creating Regina in the game world. But a system update wiped out their work, and Fuzesy was the only one who decided to start the city over again.
He said it's rewarding work, because he sees it as a digital archive.
"It's surprising to look at what you've created and it's surprising to look at all the detail, and to mentally map it and say, 'Oh, … that's the building I've seen countless times in Regina," he said.
"And it's nice to be able to look at that and think that, like, you did it and and you're the person behind that."
So far, Fuzesy said he's probably spent about 50 hours on the project. He's conscious of the time he spends on his computer, but his parents don't discourage his work on the project, because they see it as educational.
"They weren't really surprised," he said. "I get passionate about something, and then I go for it."
He's looking forward to creating other recognizable landmarks in the downtown area as part of the first leg of his project, including the public library and the Globe Theatre.
"That location is sort of like the heart of Regina," Fuzesy said. "I feel like people [who] are joining the project would feel inspired to keep going because there's a significant portion of it done."
He aims to finish the area around the park within a year, but is hoping for help completing the rest of the city.
"I estimate it'll take about 100,000 hours to finish the entire city.… And obviously I can't do that myself," he said.
"But if 100 people joined, it could maybe be done in, like, two years."
Fuzesy hopes Regina residents will one day be able to find their street, their house and their favourite store in the digital world.
As for whether Fuzesy sees this translating into a career in architecture, engineering or computer science when he graduates, he said he is considering coding — but is actually leaning more toward writing.