I’ve always romanticised about the idea of living in a commune but in reality, perhaps setting up an open minecraft server is the closest I’ll come. If you’re not familiar with Minecraft, it’s an open world (well, an infinitely procedurally generated world) that enables participants to build and create things. It’s as complicated as you want it to be. There’s a misconception about video games being for children. Most video gamers (including myself) are adults. The average age of a Minecraft player is 24! The beauty of Minecraft is that kids and adults can play the game and get totally different, yet satisfying, experiences from it. But it’s this inter-generational nature of Minecraft that can be problematic.
Problematic, well, think safeguarding. I never thought about online safety before I was a teacher. I just didn’t realise the Web could be such a dangerous place for young people and now my eyes have opened, it is horrifying. When adults and children mix online (in relatively few places I imagine), you’ll always have the potential for safeguarding issues.
My difficulty is that I wanted a completely open server so anyone could join. I was tempted to advertise it as ‘adult only’ but then how would I verify people’s status? And what other restrictions would follow. I think its great that adults and children can mix and I want to welcome anybody on the server so I needed some way then to ensure young people are safe and, as the community I intend to grow will not be true anarchy (2B2T style), I thought it best to lay down some rules.
I devised the following policy that I have put up on the associated Discord server (it’s a game-oriented textual/voice communication platform). Of course, I’ve drawn upon the wealth of online safety and netiquette resources available. There’s so much to say but given the age of some gamers, I had to write it in accessible language (something I struggle with to be honest) to ensure it is read. My next step is to create an online quiz to make sure prospective participants have read it.
Feel free to use this policy without attribution and, of course, please feel free to feedback with any comments as it is hard to anticipate all the risks young people face online. With over 50,000 Minecraft servers and over 100 million active players, you’d think these types of policies would be common. They are not. I have, myself, very rarely seen a similar policy on any game or Discord server. So, if you are responsible for a young person, or are yourself a young person, and go on a server without clear guidelines – politely suggest the admin publicise some guidelines!
Rules and Guidance
All members are here to enjoy themselves in a safe environment. This community requires honesty and mutual respect in order to operate. All players are expected to behave and chat with etiquette toward other players. A breach of the guidelines below can result in being banned.
Above all else, the welfare of young people participating on this discord server, and its associated Minecraft server, is priority. If you or another young person feels unsafe or has been subject to bullying (chat or gameplay behaviour), it should be reported to a trusted adult in the first instance. You can send a direct message to @RetroJimmyX with any relevant evidence (e.g. screenshots) and this will be investigated. Serious incidents that may put young people at risk of harm will be reported to police authorities.
Do not give out personal details to others that means they may be able to find out who you are – e.g. real name, date of birth, where you live, your school or workplace – among others. People can easily pretend to be who they are not and you should not accept friend requests from strangers.
Chat / Language
This server is inclusive and welcomes people from a variety of backgrounds wherever you live, whatever your race or gender identity and importantly whatever your age (must be older than 8). Ensure that all chat and messages are ‘family friendly’ and appropriate to younger members.
Offensive content is strictly prohibited, which includes the discussion of drugs, sex and self-harm. It is important to be mindful that discussing some topics (e.g. religion or politics) may cause offense – be sensitive. We are all here to enjoy Minecraft so it is better to keep chat messages about the game.
Advertising / Spamming / Scams
This server does not advertise nor generate an income. It does not record information about players other than their gamertags and times the server has been used. This information is not held beyond 2 weeks unless an investigation into an incident requires it to be.
Do not advertise in chat and do not spam the chat by filling it with multiple unneeded characters or messages. Do not offer items in exchange for real world money or trade in-game items for real-world items.
Do not scam other players i.e. take items, money, work or anything of value from another player dishonestly.
Grieifing is where a player intentionally destroys or changes another player’s builds or items without their consent. This is typically done to be mean and will not be tolerated.
Depending how bad an incident is, an admin or moderator may decide on the following consequences for a player:
– A written warning.
– A temporary ban for a set amount of time.
– A permanent ban.
All decisions can be appealed to @RetroJimmyX as a direct message. Please ensure you write the full facts around an incident, any supporting evidence (e.g. screenshots of chats messages).