While players can build practically anything they can imagine in Minecraft, a sandbox-style game allowing the gamers to roam and explore the virtual world, six Gen Z gamers have been using textured cubes to build 30 well-known Vietnamese landmarks in the last two years.
“We have recreated replicas of Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi, the Independence Palace in HCMC and other places in Hanoi and HCMC,” Phi Hoang Dat said.
The Hanoi-based college freshman and graphic designer said his first replica was the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, which took him a week to complete.
Phi Hoang Dat plays Minecraft in his room. Photo courtesy of Phi Hoang Dat.
The 19-year-old team leader said the idea of creating Vietnamese landmarks came to him in 2019. In June that year he put up a Facebook post looking for more players to carry this out and went on to form Team Fuho, a play on the Vietnamese word for construction worker “phu ho.”
“Though we create these buildings for our personal enjoyment, we hope they bring joy to other players. We also hope that our Happy Vietnam project will take the images of our country to more international gamers.”
The team started with 12 members, but the number has since halved.
“Some of them quit after one or two days because the game can take a big chunk of time and requires players to be very detail-oriented.”
No walk in the park
Dat said the process of creating the landmarks is far from easy.
The team members spend most of their time researching and collecting images of the interiors, architectural designs and overviews of the structures.
Inside the National Assembly Building. Graphic illustration by Team Fuho.
The team uses photos from various sources for reference, including images from Google Map and other public sites, and images submitted by people who have taken photos of the structures.
“This is the first and hardest part since there are some places where photography is prohibited,” Dat said.
“For buildings not accessible to the public, we have to rely on our imagination photos existing online.” Sometimes they have to guess what is at the back from photos taken from the front, a problem when converting 2D photos into 3D, he explained.
With photos in hand the team first comes up with the general layout of a place and stack blocks evenly. Then it begins with the central part and slowly works its way out from there. Dat said he is in charge of the construction while others are in charge of researching and working on the interior and exterior designs.
A close-up of the Independence Palace in Ho Chi Minh City. Graphic illustration by Team Fuho.
“The building will look tilted or uneven if we make any mistake during the stacking process. Sometimes, we have to demolish the entire building just to add or remove one block,” Dat said.
There have been times when Dat wanted to smash his old laptop out of frustration after he forgot to save and it crashed, wiping out all the work he had done earlier.
But his labor of love has not been in vain, and he has received fulsome praise online. His Facebook posts and YouTube videos have a slew of positive comments under them and many ask him to make more replicas of famous landmarks elsewhere in the country.
He has promised to keep pursuing this task.
“I am very thankful that my mom supports my passion. In future I wish to create a new server where I can bring more real-world experiences into the game.”