Picture of Daniel Lipscombe

Daniel Lipscombe


FeatureRemaking a children's hospital in Minecraft

Why is Microsoft building a replica of Great Ormond Street Hospital in Mojang's game?

When I first walked through the double doors of Great Ormond Street Hospital, it was a little before midnight. The cavernous reception stood before me, with people bustling back and forth. There was a bizarre ambiance: sombre yet fuelled with adrenaline. Parents and guardians shuffled from foot to foot outside, chain-smoking or making calls. My daughter had been rushed in after a car accident and standing within the famous hospital for kids was daunting for me at the age of 24. Even during the day, the hospital can look imposing: a blue-and-white NHS awning sandwiched between monumental architecture, ambulances coming and going, dropping off precious cargo.

In the late 90s, Activision wasn't the powerhouse it is now. Bobby Kotick's baby was on unsteady ground; the company wasn't sure just how successful the console industry would truly be, and having seen success in PC gaming and bought up big-name licences left, right and centre, it looked on at the burgeoning PlayStation and struggling Saturn with concern. In the midst of all this, Kotick and Activision had the Apocalypse project - already three years in development - and it was stuck in a rut.

We all know about Usain Bolt and his ludicrous speed over 100 metres. He currently holds the record with 9.58 seconds. Paula Radcliffe set the fastest women's marathon at 2 hours, 15 minutes and 25 seconds. In sports, world records mean acclaim and the chance to be recognised as the best in the business. But human obsession over world records isn't limited to the track or the sportsfield. Tony Glover is a name you won't likely be aware of unless you're into horticultural endeavours; he holds the record for growing the world's heaviest onion at 8.5kg. You maybe haven't heard of Silvio Sabba, an Italian man who aims to hold as many records as possible. He currently has around 70 titles to his name, including most clothes pegs attached to his face in one minute (51), most AA batteries held in one hand (48) and most CDs balanced on one finger (255).