Minecraft: Denmark replica disrupted by 'cyber vandals'

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Minecraft castleImage source, Satscape/Flickr
Image caption,
Minecraft players can create intricate virtual worlds

A virtual replica of Denmark created to help educate children has been disrupted by "cyber vandals".

Small portions of it were blown up, despite a ban by its creators, the Danish Geodata Agency (DGA), on the use of "dynamite".

Large US flags were erected at the starting area, as well as red, white and blue "America" signs.

The state-owned agency believes the "vandalism" was to attract attention, and said the damage had been repaired.

Images showing the changes first appeared on the fan site minecraftforum.net posted by a user who wrote: "I americanlized [sic] the place a bit."

Chris Hammeken, chief press officer at the Danish Geodata Agency, told the BBC: "Only a minor area was destroyed.

"The flags actually appeared right where the players start, so I think the people who put them there wanted to gain as much attention as possible."

Hidden 'dynamite'

"Minecraft is about building and rebuilding," said Mr Hammeken, who described the incident as part of Minecraft's "nature of play."

Buildings were destroyed using virtual dynamite - the use of which had been banned on the Danish server - after users discovered it could be detonated when hidden in mining carts.

"It was the players who cleaned up the damage, replacing it with green grass and flowers the following morning," said Mr Hammeken.

The city was not "hand-built" - the topographical data of Denmark was imported into Minecraft, which is also available as a free download on the DGA's website.

Image source, Minecraftforum.net
Image caption,
A gamer uploaded this screenshot to a Minecraft fan site

Those who download the data can upload it to their own private Minecraft server, which will provide a restored city and keep users free from attack.

The replica has already been downloaded over 220,000 times since the beginning of this month.

Virtual field trips

The DGA created the replica of Denmark in order to arouse interest in spatial data, with a particular emphasis on educating children.

Its website explains: "There are real addresses in the game, so it's possible to have a discussion of place names and their meanings."

The agency has also suggested using the replica as a way of taking students on virtual field trips.

"We've discovered children are more motivated to learn when they see something they're familiar with," explained Mr Hammeken, who said Minecraft had been used as an educational tool in Denmark for a long time.

It is not clear who the "vandals" were or why they targeted Denmark.

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