As anyone who’s been visiting the site for even a little while could tell you, we’re obsessed with lots of things here at the Movoto Real Estate office. Houses, pop culture, video games, building houses out of unusual objects… we’ve covered it all, and more. There’s one topic that brings all of those things together in a particularly fitting way for yours truly, and that’s “Minecraft”.
Unlike other video games I’ve talked about on the site in the past—“Tetris” and “World of Warcraft”, for example—“Minecraft” really gets to the core of our fixation on home construction since it’s a title where you’re given the power to build your own abode in a living, breathing world. Sure, you can build lots of stuff in the game (and folks have made plenty of amazing creations in it) but the one thing every player absolutely must construct to survive is a house. That’s why I thought the game would be particularly well-suited for the Movoto treatment.
But how to make “Minecraft” personal to even non-gamers—or at least that don’t share a “minor” addiction to it like mine? By giving you something to relate to: What you’d need to be able to build a house the same size as yours within the game.
Figuring it all out took me even farther into the game I sometimes see when I close my eyes. After learning more about “Minecraft” than I ever thought I would, I worked out that an average 2,500 square foot, two-story house would require 468 blocks in the game to build. Not content to stop there, I also figured out that you’d specifically need 968 tons of stone blocks, 101 tons of wood planks, and six tons of glass blocks to pull it off. That would take approximately eight minutes to “mine” in the game.
My path to these conclusions involved not just plenty of research, but also a re-education in Newtonian physics. Intrigued? Read on to find out how I did it.
Building the Best House on the Block, From Blocks
Before I get into the details on what I found, I suppose a brief recap of what “Minecraft” is all about is in order. In case you’ve never played it, here are some things you need to know:
- You mine resources such as stone, sand, and wood from the game world using tools or your bare hands
Resources can be crafted into specific materials and tools by combining or processing them using techniques such as smelting.
- The materials you find or make can be used to make all sorts of things: Buildings, minecarts, boats, and more.
- If you play in Survival mode, monsters will come out at night. You can either fight them or hide from them in your house. If your house has a bed, you can sleep through the night.
- You can band together with friends to mine, explore, and build.
- I mentioned it earlier, but the game is really addictive.
While the structure of the game is incredibly open, one of the first things new players must do in Survival mode (if they want to, well, survive) is build some sort of house. This way they won’t be killed by the monsters that come out at night—and night falls quickly in the Minecraft world.
Buildings and geography in “Minecraft” are built out of same-sized blocks—hence the game’s blocky look—although there are some exceptions, such as fences and slabs, which are only portions of a block. In order to figure out how many of the full-sized blocks it would take to build a house, I first had to find out how big they’re supposed to be.
Sizing Up (and Weighing) a Minecraft Block
Thanks to its tremendous fan following and deeply involved developers, the game has been astonishingly well documented online. That made it easy to find out, via the Minecraft Wiki, that a standard block is 1 yard (3 feet) on all sides. This means that each block is 27 cubic feet in size.
Obviously, building your home’s walls using “Minecraft” blocks is going to mean that it’ll have much thicker walls than a normal home. This will serve to eat away at actual usable square footage when all is said and done, since the walls will encroach onto the floor plan more.
Beyond just determining the number of blocks you’d need to replicate your house at the same number of floors and square footage, I wanted to figure out how much all of the required materials would weigh to make things a bit more interesting. To do this, I had to figure out:
- What types of blocks would be used to build the house (stone, wood, etc.)
- How much those materials weigh on their own in the real world
- How much they’d weigh if fashioned into 27 cubic foot blocks
I decided to build the model “Minecraft” home with stone walls and a wood roof/floors. I also factored in two glass windows per floor and one door, since you need that last bit to keep monsters out.
Stone blocks in the game are generally considered to be made from granite, which in the real world weighs 168 pounds per cubic foot. A wooden plank block is considered to to be dry pine, which weighs 26 pounds per cubic foot in our world (when fashioned into 2×4 planks). Finally, window glass weighs 161 pounds per cubic foot outside the game. That means one stone block in the game weighs 6,048 pounds; one wood plank block in the game weighs 936 pounds; and one glass block weighs 5,796 pounds.
Rather, they would weigh that much, if the gravity in “Minecraft” was the same as on the real Earth. I’ll explain that next.
Minecraft’s Gravity is Heavy, Man
When game designers create a new world, they’re able to play god in a lot of ways. One of those is deciding how the laws of physics apply—or don’t—to it. Gravity is one of the forces that gets manipulated in order to determine how fast things fall, how far you can jump, how fast you can move, and so on.
In the vastness of the internet, I happened upon a very enlightening post on how gravity is handled in “Minecraft”. On the Minecraft Forums, a player by the name of Wyboth put their considerable skills in physics to work determining the mass and gravity of the “Minecraft Earth” based on some experiments and a lot of math. I’ll spare you the boring (or, if you’re like me, fascinating) details, but it basically boiled down to this: objects in Minecraft weigh 147 percent of what they do on Earth.
Luckily, the player character, “Steve,” seems able to carry an infinite amount of weight. Cool as that is, it doesn’t affect my home building needs, so I could move on to my final calculations.
Building to a Conclusion
Knowing how much heavier everything is in the “Minecraft” world, I was able to calculate that a stone block would actually weigh 6,048 pounds there. A block of wood planks would weigh 1,380 pounds and a block of glass would weigh 5,796 pounds.
Using the size of the blocks and a little thing called math, I was able to determine that an average-sized home (2,500 square feet, two stories) constructed from “Minecraft” blocks would require:
- 320 stone blocks for its walls
- 146 wood plank blocks for its roof
- 2 glass blocks for its windows
- 6 wood plank blocks that must be crafted into its door
The weight of these building materials breaks down as follows:
- 968 tons of stone blocks
- 101 tons of wood plank blocks
- 6 tons of glass blocks
- For a total of 1,075 tons of blocks
Using an iron pickaxe, it would take you this long to mine the resources required:
- 6 minutes for the stone blocks
- 1 minute 10 seconds for the wood to make the wood plank blocks
- 0.3 seconds for the sand to turn into the glass blocks in a furnace, a process that would take an additional 20 seconds
Of course, this estimate of building materials doesn’t include things like stairs to move from floor to floor, a fancy angled roof (which requires more blocks), storage, decorations, or anything else like that. If you want a bed to sleep through the night in, that’s going to take three blocks of wool (obtained by shearing sheep) and three more blocks of wood planks. Trust me: After your first night of sitting inside as monsters rustle around outside, you’re going to want a bed.
While the number of blocks required aren’t staggering like they’d be with a LEGO or Rubik’s Cube house, you can’t deny that it would be one unique looking abode. You’d just have to worry about friends with pickaxes coming by to mine it for building supplies of their own—or Creepers trying to blow it up.