Cloudcraft Unravels the mysteries of Microsoft Datacenters in Minecraft

16 Oct 2022 Cloud Craft Banner art

The cloud is everywhere, in almost every piece of technology we use. It powers all the ways we live and learn and play!

But what is the cloud? Imagine a massive network spanning the globe, with millions of computers all working to make our technology tick.

That network lives in hundreds of Microsoft datacenters around the world!

But datacenters don’t exist in a vacuum. They’re essential parts of their communities that provide employment, infrastructure, and support for local environmental initiatives. They’re neighbors and partners in developing the community. Your students might have one in their hometown and not even know it!

We want to help young people understand datacenters and get learners excited about the technology that keeps the cloud running. For EU Code Week, the Microsoft Datacenter Community Development team has partnered with Lifeboat to develop CloudCraft for Minecraft: Education Edition.

This single-player Minecraft game is appropriate for students of all ages, and most learners will complete it in about 45 minutes.

The immersive experience plunges students into the mysterious world of datacenters. They wake up as a newly hired employee at a freshly constructed facility in a small town. They hurry to work, and their boss immediately alerts them to a series of emergencies facing the datacenter. She needs their help to get the facility in working order!

As students progress through a series of puzzle-based challenges, they learn about the diverse roles that support cloud computing. All along, they’ll encounter in-depth information that will help make these technological marvels just a little less mysterious.

Students will meet five different non-player characters that support several aspects of datacenter operations:

  • The technician needs help installing server racks — the core physical hardware of any datacenter — and connecting them to switchboxes using bundles of cables. Position the cables correctly to get the cloud off the ground!
  • The architect manages efforts to offset the datacenter’s environmental impact. She needs the player to navigate an obstacle course and plant two trees for each one removed in the facility’s construction. Mix parkour with planting to make it happen!
  • The engineer is responsible for the datacenter’s cybersecurity, so they enlist the player to stop a security breach by shrinking down and battling a nefarious computer virus and its digital minions.
  • The environmental team needs help getting the facility’s renewable energy online by activating solar panels and wind turbines. Once the power is flowing, they gather, sort, and recycle the datacenter’s hardware to minimize waste.
  • The security team puts the player in charge of the datacenter’s external cameras and tasks them with spotting pillager intruders. Once they’ve identified the culprits, the iron golem security squad moves in to neutralize the threat!
A Minecraft character welcomes students to a CloudCraft Data Center

Each challenge teaches young people about a different aspect of a datacenter’s operations, from the hardware that supports the cloud to environmental responsibility and the importance of physical security. As learners' complete tasks, they’ll watch the datacenter’s home community grow from a sleepy hamlet to a bustling, tech-powered town thanks to job growth and widening technological horizons. When their missions are complete, they’ll receive a digital certificate to show off that they’ve mastered the mysteries of the datacenter!

There are also opportunities for further inquiry once your students conquer the challenges in the game. They can learn from data points that pop up throughout the virtual facility, access the special Innovation Room and Operations Area, and explore cutting-edge technologies like an Azure Orbital Ground Station and Project Natick, Microsoft’s underwater datacenter initiative.

By the end of the game, learners will understand:

  • How a datacentre works to manage our digital identity
  • The diverse people and jobs required to keep the cloud running
  • The impact cloud storage can have on the environment and businesses’ responsibility to take sustainable action
  • The importance of physical and logical security to protect people’s privacy
  • How the datacentre manages digital identity and media

Your students might even get inspired to become technicians, engineers, or one of the other vital professionals who keep the cloud soaring!

An underwater Microsoft datacentre in CloudCraft

You can access CloudCraft: We Live in the Cloud free through the in-game lesson library. Head to the lesson page to find resources, including an educator guide, lesson plan, worksheets, and activity guides to help you lead learning.

Get ready to teach your students how datacenters power the world’s technology and enrich their communities!