Can’t Gather in Person for Commencement? No Problem, Thanks to the UConn Gaming Club

After the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the planned commencement ceremonies this spring, the UConn Gaming Club sprang into action on a virtual version.

The iconic Gampel Pavilion floor, as it looks in Minecraft.

The iconic Gampel Pavilion floor, as it looks in Minecraft. (Courtesy of the UConn Gaming Club)

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to postponements and cancellations for everything from Memorial Day parades to the Summer Olympics, and UConn has not been spared.

The news that the traditional commencement ceremony won’t be happening in May left the Class of 2020 disappointed; longing for a chance to walk across the stage and hear their names called like almost every class in UConn history, it seemed the pandemic had dashed their hopes. But, when Andi Duro ’21 (ENG) heard the news, he had a different reaction.

How, he wondered, could he bring the class of 2020 the graduation they wanted, in the very place where they wanted it – on the fabled floor of Gampel Pavilion?

After seeing other schools like the University of Pennsylvania recreate their campuses in Minecraft (an open-world video game that allows user to create nearly anything using blocks), Duro, along with Ryan Marsh ’20 (ENG) and other UConn Gaming Club members, got to work.

“I recorded almost the entire thing, and it’s 12 hours,” Marsh says of building the Minecraft-style graduation at Minecraft Gampel. “And that’s with missing a few sessions.”

Duro and Marsh sat down with Maxine Philavong ’20 (CLAS) of the UConn 360 Podcast to talk about their plans for the club’s virtual graduation ceremony, how they built the virtual replica of Gampel, and how students can get involved. 

Listen here: