Most people in Minecraft are content to build mud castles and sheep pens. But some gamers yearn for more. These folks have taken things a step further by building virtual computers inside the video game.
A virtual computer typically has the same functionality as the physical machine it’s replicating, but rather than being built out of wires and silicon, its simulated inside another program and is powered by virtual signals instead of electricity.
Minecraft is not the only video game where people have built virtual computers, but it provides some of the most ambitious examples. With the right material, almost all of these creations would be replicable in real life.
This 16-bit computer has all the basic components of a real computer: 256 bytes of ROM, 32 bytes of RAM, and a processor. In lieu of electricity, it's powered with signals sent through 'redstone,' a material in Minecraft that can transmit a basic on/off binary signal, just like in real computer components.
This scientific graphing calculator that works just like the real thing. The calculator uses 'redstone' instead of than electricity.
Here's a word processor and calculator that has working keyboard and screen. (In later versions the user added a mouse and a music player.) So why do people do it? 'The basic answer,' one Reddit use says, 'is because we can, and the resources exist to do it.'
This 17-minute video about this 'Bluestone' computer provides an in-depth look at the incredible detail and intricacies involved in virtual computing. It uses all the same principles as traditional programming.
Not every Redstone creation aims to replicate 'traditional' computers. Just look at this programmable drum kit created by 'disco-.'
Here's an even better one: Minecraft *in Minecraft*. It's 2D, but players can explore the world, dig, place blocks, and build ladders.
A 2012 update introduced 'command blocks.' These allow the size of constructions to be dramatically miniaturised. It's less pleasing for purists, but allows more ambitious projects -- like this iPhone.
After unlocking it using a (customisable!) passcode, there's 20 functional apps available -- spread out over multiple home screens.
If that's not enough for Apple lovers, Igor_Timofeev has something else for you. It's an iMac, complete with a Word Processor.
Want more than just one computer? CalDaBeast built a functional Internet. It can only transmit 4-bit binary info ('in this case, 1-9) between 7 computers. But once again, it's fundamental real-world CompSci concepts.
The 'Commandore 32.' It can plot graphs, and run Paint and Tic-Tac-Toe. And it even comes with its own programming language -- making it easy for anyone to develop apps for.
BONUS: A calculator in PS3 game Little Big Planet. Minecraft isn't the only game where people explore virtual computing. Any game of sufficient complexity is suitable. Here's an 8-bit calculator capable of double-digit addition and subtraction.
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