We Tracked Down The Person Responsible For The Flight Simulator Melbourne Monolith

A screenshot of the Flight Simulator Melbourne Monolisk
Twitter: @alexandermuscat

This week, the formerly serene skyline of Melbourne was disrupted, nay, violated by the sudden creation of an ominous monolithic structure. The building is 212 stories of nondescript construction that looms above the suburb of Fawkner, in Melbourne’s north. People from around the world have made the trip to Victoria just to marvel at its wonder. Oh, did we mention it’s part of the Microsoft Flight Simulator game?

The building is a glitch in the recently released game, which uses data from Bing Maps to generate its map. After users first spotted it, they began to wonder how it ended up in this game.

In response to a Twitter thread about the monolith, user @futzle shared a tantalising hypothesis: it was caused by a typo in OpenStreetMap, an open-source map of the world.

Using only the user’s name on OpenStreetMap, this intrepid reporter was able to track down the man using digital breadcrumbs he’d left behind.

His name? Nathan Wright. His occupation? Not a professional map maker (unsurprisingly) but an architectural student. And how did his magnum opus come about? By accident, really.

A year ago, Wright had to spend time every week putting details into OpenStreetMap for his degree. The task wasn’t assessed and it was, he said, “pretty boring”.

“We had to go in and put data about the suburbs into OSM. It was very monotonous and I made a few mistakes but I was like ‘fuck it, I don’t care,'” he said.

Now 25 years old and still studying his masters, Wright knew Microsoft Flight Simulator was coming out but wasn’t following it too closely.

That’s why he was so surprised to receive a LinkedIn message out of the blue this morning asking him if he owned the nathanwright120 account.

He replied that it might be his account but didn’t know why a reporter (me) was asking him. When I showed him how the world had responded to his typo, he thought it was … pretty funny.

“Lol ???? this was the first time i ever used OSM for a uni assignment,” he typed.

But despite claiming full responsibility for the structure, Wright doesn’t support the idea of naming the structure after himself.

“It’s too dumb. I like the Melbourne Monolisk,” he said.