Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has built an empire on tech money and professional games. Now he's eyeing another expansion — into the digital universe of the game Minecraft. In an unprecedented move, the Mavs have announced a partnership with Mineplex, one of the largest Minecraft servers in the world, to create Dallas Mavericks World.
Cuban says that this partnership will act as an educational tool for kids and adults from Dallas County to Shanghai. "Minecraft is not just a game, it’s a way for kids and adults to build, explore and learn the fundamentals of computer science," says Cuban. “The Dallas Mavericks have always been big supporters of education in our community. Now we can truly be a part of it on a global scale. ”
Minecraft is all about building. Players are dropped into a free roaming world where they can gather materials like stone, grass and dynamite to create anything or everything. On January 19 Microsoft announced “Minecraft: Education Edition,” designed specifically for the classroom. The game has already been implemented in lesson plans from kindergarten classes to graduate programs. Now the Mavs have jumped on the bandwagon.
Mineplex, in conjunction with the Mavs, has a team in place to handle the in-game construction of a scale model of the American Airlines Center rendered in the game's blocky-playground. “When you go inside that you’ll be able to play a basketball-esque game on the actual court of the American Airlines Center,” says Ryan Kline, an associate with Mark Cuban Companies, who is helping to oversee the creation of this project.
But users have already reproduced a somewhat accurate replica of the AAC in the game, as well as working basketball courts and even working computers. (This is more of a word processor, but it’s basically built like a computer.)
Dallas Mavericks World will feature regular building contests, where players will be tasked to create their own interpretations of a prompt which may end up becoming a permeant fixture into the digital landscape, and Finegold says they hope to expand the scope of what this new hub has to offer in the future.
“It’s really about unleashing our fan’s creativity in these competitions,” says Kline. “I think the process of building creatively based on a prompt is educational. But we’re hoping once we get people on the platform and engaged we can come up with other ways to build in those educational resources.”
The game also allows for anyone to set up their own severs, where the rules of the game can be modified. Companies like Mineplex take advantage of this by offering users an online multiplayer experience to create and play together, but the partnership between the Dallas Mavericks and Mineplex is looking to further expand the possibilities of the game.
“What we see as a company is, [Minecraft] is a content distribution platform,” says Caleb Applegate, director of business development at Mineplex. "It’s not just a place to play games."
Scheduled to be completed this summer, Dallas will likely get first crack at accessing the hub, says Erin Finegold, director of corporate communications and events for the Dallas Mavericks. “[We’re hoping] that our players and Mark will have some sort of participation in this game as well,” says Finegold. “Mark is very passionate about it. And when Mark is passionate about something we jump."