Morbid fascination with The Great Fire of London starts in the early schooldays, when unsuspecting Brits are often first taught about the year their capital became a tinderbox. And it never stops: the death, the controversy and that one, doomed bakery is inexhaustibly, gruesomely enthralling.
Now we can indulge our curiosity with materials beyond ageing textbooks and flickering documentaries. The Museum of London has mixed its historical expertise and rich resources with less reality-based know-how: digital producer Adam Clarke and Minecraft professionals Blockworks and Dragnoz.
Together, they have created Great Fire 1666, a unique, immersive experience of three maps detailing the Great Fire of London using Minecraft. The first map (shown above) is based on Wenceslaus Hollar’s map of burnt London from the museum’s collection. Players search the city for audio clips, learning about the causes of the fire in the cubey Minecraft world..
The second map is where it treads from museum territory to games: you get to pretend you’re a hero, saving residents in mini-games, fighting the fire and even chatting to a few famous figures from the time. In the final stage, step into Chrispher Wren’s shoes and work out how to rebuild London.
If this wonderful use of Minecraft excites you, which it should, download for free the first map from 29 July 2016, the second map from September 2016 and the third in February 2017.