Microsoft Flight Simulator players spotted a giant mountain-high obelisk in Australia this week. While Flight Simulator has done a great job at recreating the real world, this unusually huge structure doesn’t exist in real life. Players have now discovered that its existence stems from a simple typo.
University student Nathan Wright made an edit to OpenStreetMap data for part of his degree work last year, adding more than two hundred stories to a building that’s actually just two stories. Wright meant to type 2, but instead he typed 212 in the data section for floors. “I think it’s so funny as it was the first time I was using OpenStreetMap,” says Wright in an email to The Verge. “I was using it for a university task and had to add data for class. I didn’t think I would have to see it again.”
His university work is now internet famous, especially with the Microsoft Flight Simulator community. The typo made its way into Microsoft’s Bing Maps data, which Asobo Studio, the developers behind Microsoft Flight Simulator, uses to map out the world in the game. Flight Simulator uses Azure-powered procedural generation technology, combined with Bing Maps data, to recreate virtual buildings like this 212-story obelisk.
Another OpenStreetMap user has since corrected the data typo, but it’s already made its way into Flight Simulator and internet history. “I find it really funny that it made it into the game and that I was tracked down so quickly,” says Wright.