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You can play Atari games inside Minecraft

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Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

YouTube personality SethBling has emulated the Atari 2600 inside Minecraft. It’s a clever use of the game’s command blocks, which act as the brains of the operation.

But don’t get too excited.

While SethBling has provided a tool to load Atari ROMs into Minecraft, once they’re in there you’re only going to be playing at around 60 frames per... four hours.

Instead, think of his project as a tremendous way to explain how games are made.

SethBling has assembled an array of more than 2,000 command blocks in his design. The way he has them configured, they read stone and dirt as either ones or zeros. When an Atari game is pushed into Minecraft it resolves itself as a 4 kilo-block chunk of land, a three-dimensional representations of raw game code.

It proves to be a remarkable visual representation of the ephemeral nature of programming. You can watch SethBling sculpt the blast shields from Space Invaders on the cart itself before they’re sent to the 2600’s “screen” by manually editing them with his in-game hand.

It’s easy to see how a teacher could use SethBling’s tools, capitalizing on the familiar landscape of Minecraft to teach kids programming. A much more technical explanation is available, and you can even download the world for yourself and mess around with it.

For more mind-bending Minecraft builds check out our guided tours of The Legend of Zelda and Pac-Man.

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