We had a cool thing going. We would show up at a library. You would show up at a library. You would ask us questions and we would answer them. And we’d see your face and learn about you.

We sent reporters all around Long Beach for Office Hours, plopping ourselves and our laptops down at coffee shops, breweries and restaurants to hear from you.

But, times are different now and while social distancing orders don’t let us connect in person anymore, we still want to hang out with you! So we figured out a way that can still happen: We built Long Beach in Minecraft and we want you to play with us.

We asked the folks at GeoBoxers to build a to-scale version of Downtown Long Beach based off data from OpenStreetMap, and contributors and our lead programmer Josh Reed did a tech thing and put it on a server so we can play together.

The Villa Riviera is much prettier in person, but we can make it nice in Minecraft. Also, we need to fix the International Tower—it’s supposed to be round.

Even if you don’t have the game, you can still hang out with us on our live stream and ask us questions about our jobs, our reporting or about our mad block building skills through the comments. Our reporters will answer live.

This is for everyone: Kids who are already Minecraft masters? This is for you. Millennials who miss the simplicity of a classic game? Walk down memory lane with us. Parents who need a break at a virtual restaurant? Help us build that restaurant (don’t worry, it’s easy to learn).

We have one problem though.

Since the Minecraft version of Long Beach is based on map data, all the buildings are made out of white blocks, so our city looks pretty boring.

This Thursday, let’s rebuild it together and make it even cooler.

You can create a giant mural on top of the convention center, or add a space walk over Ocean Boulevard, or build a roller coaster on Pine Avenue, or whatever you want (but inappropriate things will get you kicked off the server, FYI).

The possibilities are endless. Also, stay tuned for future battle events!

Maybe we can finally figure out what to do with the Elephant Lot.

Here’s how you can join us, whether you want to play or not:

At 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, we will livestream reporters Stephanie Rivera and Valerie Osier as they play and they’ll be available to talk and answer questions through the chats on Twitch, Facebook and Twitter.

If you want to play and have the game or phone app already, pop your email into the form below and we’ll send you a message on Thursday with the server login information.

*Important note: We chose Minecraft because it’s a widespread game that’s accessible on almost any console, BUT the server should work on PCs, XBox, Playstation, WiiU, Nintendo Switch, Android and iPhones. It will not work on Mac or in the Java Edition of the game.*

If you don’t have the game, you can download here for $7 (phone app) or $30 (PC’s and consoles).

Here’s our first mission

The lighthouse in Rainbow Harbor didn’t get built! Let’s build it together.

Help us build the lighthouse in Rainbow Harbor! The map data didn’t pick it up so right now the version in Minecraft is just a swirling sidewalk with nothing on it. Let’s make it even better than the original.

Server rules: No inappropriate language or images allowed on Minecraft. Do not threaten others on the game or write threatening language. Hate speech and harassment of any kind will not be allowed, either. We have a zero tolerance policy and will remove you from the game if you are found to be in violation of this rule. Also, please don’t just destroy things.

Have any questions or suggestions to make the experience better? Reach out to Valerie Osier at [email protected].

Valerie Osier is the Social Media & Newsletter Manager for the Long Beach Post. Reach her at [email protected] or on Twitter @ValerieOsier