Metro Teen Creates Downtown Des Moines in Popular Video Game

DES MOINES, Iowa — A local teen has created a virtual playground for fellow gamers that looks very familiar.

Sixteen year-old Sean Eddy owns and created ProjectDSM.

“I’ve been recreating downtown Des Moines in Minecraft” says the Valley High School junior. “I guess a lot of people ask me what the reason I do this is and I just think it’s fun.”

The project started a few years ago when Eddy created Stilwell Junior High in the game for a school project.

“I found I really enjoyed that. So, then I kind of pushed off from there. I built 801 Grand and I though that was going to be an independent thing but then I branched out in doing the rest of the city” said Eddy.

ProjectDSM now spans around a square mile.  Including landmarks such as the Ruan Center, EMC Insurance building and Marriott hotel.  Eddy recently completed Cowles Commons and even has cranes up for areas that are currently under construction.

The most difficult part, perhaps surprisingly, isn’t the intricate details.

“Building it to scale” says Eddy. “I built the entire city just how I thought it looked but I didn’t really have a scale. Then I realized like a year or two in, it wasn’t going to work because things couldn’t line up. So, I basically rebuilt the entire thing and measured it out.”

Eddy uses the internet as reference points.

“It’s all Google Maps and Google Earth basically. I used Google Earth as a ruler tool. So that measures in meters and then every block corresponds to one meter. So that’s my scale for everything to work.”

The teen says he’s never tried to total up the total amount of time he has spent on the project but guesses it’s somewhere in the  hundreds of hours.

For now, it’s on hold. Eddy is taking five Advanced Placement classes starting Friday, which will require his focus during the school year.

“Next summer I’d like to continue if I’m available. I might have a job, I don’t know. I mean, just expanding east and west. It would be nice to have the (Des Moines) River. I think that would be fun and cool because the furthest east we are is 3rd Street, and (the river) is not that far.”

Eddy says he hopes ProjectDSM inspires others to get creative.

“In Minecraft you can do basically anything you want to any degree of realism that you’d like” says Eddy. “With the level of detail I’ve put into it, I feel like it encourages people to go out, build what they enjoy and preserve it digitally as long as you’d like.”

The ProjectDSM server is open to anyone with Minecraft for Windows.

You can get a closer look through this video, and  find out more at ProjectDSM.org.