Minecraft Let Gamers Design Sculptures That Will Now Become Coral Reefs

Placed off Cozumel, the creations will foster aquatic life

Designs created in Minecraft were turned into underwater sculptures that would facilitate coral growth. - Credit by Minecraft
Headshot of Alissa Fleck

File this one under life imitating art.

Minecraft and San Francisco agency 215 McCann have partnered on an initiative to help restore the coral reefs in Mexico in conjunction with the Microsoft-owned game’s Update Aquatic, an expansion that fills the “once-empty Minecraft ocean” with bustling marine life.

Through the Coral Crafters project, Minecraft partnered with some of its most influential players to develop three underwater sculptures, designed in the game and then brought to life as frames then anchored to the sea floor off the coast of Cozumel, Mexico. Another three sculptures, including the game’s iconic characters Steve and Alex, were created by the Coral Crafters team.

The sculptures are specially designed to facilitate the growth of real coral with the aid of biorock—a substance, sometimes known as “seament,” created by the electro-accumulation of minerals dissolved in seawater. The sculptures will allow for the growth of coral colonies for “decades to come,” according to an agency release.


The Minecraft influencers—Rabahrex, Logdotzip and Stacyplays—decided for themselves how to solicit input for their designs. While two of the three based their designs on audience and gamer feedback, Rabahrex enlisted students at a school in Mexico, having them compete to create the best design. The winner? A statue honoring the axolotl, a Mexican salamander.

McCann and Minecraft have also partnered with The Nature Conservancy, a nonprofit that farms and plants coral in the Caribbean, as well as targeting other threats to the ocean. Whenever a player builds coral or buys a custom-made pack from the organization within the game, it triggers automatic donations from Minecraft and Microsoft to the charity, according to the agency.

The campaign will be featured globally in paid media, and Minecraft’s Update Aquatic will be available on Xbox One, Windows 10 PC, Nintendo Switch and mobile devices this summer.

CREDITS:

Client: Microsoft / Minecraft
Taylor Smith
Fergus Lynch
Jessica Freeman
Emily Orrson
Lydia Winters
Nicolette Suraga

Agency: 215 McCann
Chief Creative Officer: Scott Duchon
Creative Director: Neil Bruce
Copywriter: Andy Holdeman
ACD / Art Director: Alper Kologlu
Animators: Carson Bell
Director of Integrated Production: Alex Spahr
Associate Producer: Christina Chin
Director of Business Affairs: Mary Beth Barney
Business Director: Peter Goldstein
Senior Account Executive: Sam Brody
Assistant Account Executive: Robbie Kalish
Director of Strategy: Brian Wakabayashi
Strategy Director: Cassidy Wilber
Engineering and Fabrication: Global Coral Reef Alliance
President and Founder: Thomas Goreau, PhD
Vice President for Design, Power & IT: Thomas Sarkisian
Project Management and Coordination: Marcia Cristina Tessis
Local Subcontractor: Qualti, S.A

Film Production Company: Strike Anywhere
Director: Michael Jacobs
Line Producer: Adrienne Hall
Executive Producer: Cori Cooperider
Underwater Footage: The Jetlagged
Hendrik S. Schmitt and Claudia Schmitt
Editor: Clayton Worfolk
Animator: Tom Yaniv
Illustrator: Rod Hunt
Telecine and Finish: Mission Film and Design
Colorist: Sean Wells
Flame Artist: Mark Everson
Managing Director: Matt Notaro
Original Music: Robot Repair
Recording Studio: One Union Recording
Mixer: Joaby Deahl


@AlissaFleck Alissa Fleck is a New York City-based reporter, podcast producer and contributor to Adweek.