MSU Minecraft players united by new server


Colin Stevenson

The MSU Minecraft server uses the “Better Minecraft” modpack to enhance the server and make it more interesting to veteran players and without intimidating newer players, 2022. Screenshot by Colin Stevenson.

The Stangs Gaming Club has brought an opportunity for students to connect with one another through one of the most popular games of all time: Minecraft. The club recently completed a months-long process of gauging interest, surveying students and ironing out technical aspects to produce a Minecraft server designed to both attract new players and intrigue veterans of the game.

The server uses a modpack to enhance the regular or ‘vanilla’ Minecraft experience, which increases the server’s appeal to veteran Minecraft players like computer science sophomore Payton Cox.

“Personally, I’ve been playing Minecraft for over 10 years now, so modded Minecraft was something somewhat important to me because I’ve played a lot of vanilla. I’ve ran multiple servers, and in vanilla, most people will play until you kill the Ender Dragon, and then they’re done. So, with a modpack, there’s more stuff to do, more enemies, more bosses, so it keeps people playing for longer,” Cox said.

Stangs Gaming Club worked with university IT staff to set the server up and customize it to what students wanted from the server. Students voted at each stage of setup on options for modpacks. Rebekah Jones, PC and network lead technician, detailed the process.

“They knew they wanted a modded server. So, initially they were worried about Java versus Bedrock.  Well, you can’t really do Bedrock with modded right now, so that made the decision there. And then I kind of narrowed it down. I took suggestions on what they wanted, and nobody had a pack in mind.  So, they just kind of listed mods that they wanted to play. So, I found a few that kind of fit that, and they voted on one and we got it up.  But, it was a bit buggy,” Jones said.

After using the initial modpack the student community voted for, newer players to the game were struggling. At that point, another adjustment was in order.

“I think it wasn’t very accessible.  So, some of the newer players were having trouble with it. After that, they kind of took it back and found another one that they liked, and that’s the one that we’ve stuck with,” Jones said.

With players settled into the current configuration of the server, Zachary Zoet, esports and gaming coordinator, said he hopes to see the server connect students.

“More so than necessarily growing the gaming community, it’s finding people that are already in the gaming community that are a little bit adrift and haven’t quite found their friends here at MSU. Because chances are in any given classroom there’ll be two to three to four to five people that know Minecraft, have played Minecraft, but have no idea that in this very classroom there are people that share that same passion for gaming or that game specifically. And people can be in a classroom, go to class, go back to their dorm and experience a very isolated experience here at MSU. And that’s kind of regrettable, and we’d rather people find other students who share those passions, make those relationships with, so that their university experience is everything that it should be,” Zoet said.

Cox echoed Zoet’s hopes for the server, and said it could potentially bring together students who might not otherwise know they had a love of Minecraft in common.

“With the server, for people who do enjoy Minecraft, if we didn’t have a school-based server you would never really meet each other. Because [of] how Minecraft is and servers, there’s a lot of them to choose from. So the chances of you being on the exact same one and finding out you’re from MSU is not likely,” Cox said.

Zoet said the server has given students the opportunity to expand their connections.

“I think it’s really empowered some students that are really into Minecraft to kind of find themselves in a community building role, which is very interesting because if you’ve kind of been doing your own thing, not very connected with the campus community etc, and all of a sudden ‘Oh, Minecraft server, I know Minecraft,’ and then you’re literally making videos about how to play Minecraft. Everybody is messaging you. You’re getting in the voice coms with them. I think it’s been really cool to find people stepping in to these like quasi-community-organizing roles, so that’s been cool,” Zoet said.

Jones said seeing students share their in-game achievements and enjoy themselves is what is most important.

“I think the fact that they’ve got one that they’re comfortable with and they like, I think that will help, especially once they start really getting into building. Because they like to go on the Discord I know, and they’ll post lots of pictures of stuff that they’ve done. As long as they’re enthusiastic about the stuff that they’ve built and they’re proud of it and they’re having a good time, that’s what matters,” Jones said.