I didn't even know that Minecraft had player-vs-player game types, and I don't even know how Minecraft servers generally work. Feel free to write off this entire article as the ramblings of a biased asshole.
Still, regardless of your feelings about my qualifications to write about anything Minecraft-related (or my qualifications to write about anything in general), we should all safely be able to agree that what happened in the United Kingdom (pray for Vortexica) with regards to the school bomb hoaxes as a result of a Minecraft server rivalry is... tragic.
Per Sky News, 24,000 spoofed (sent by someone disguising themselves as someone else) bomb threats were sent to 400 educational institutions in the UK. The spoofer claimed to be part of the Minecraft server VeltPvP. VeltPvP denies they were behind this. (Either way, this is probably huge advertisement for VeltPvP, which isn't just a server, but apparently a whole business with chief officers.) Specifically, they said to send money over to VeltPvP in exchange for not being blown up. (It's unclear what would have happened if anyone had actually sent money to VeltPvP.)
|Whomever wrote this e-mail sucks at English, or they're pretending to be Arabic.|
...Or maybe they really are Arabic and we can turn this story into one about Muslims in the UK.
Either way, we're pretty familiar with this kind of thing ourselves.
Last year, KoopaTV received a DMCA request from a guy claiming to be Nintendo employee Nate Bihldorff. He was using a fake mailer. Ultimately, nothing came of it, much like these hoax bomb threats.
This illustrates the low threshold it takes for people to put together hoaxes and threats like this, claiming to be someone else. In this case, whomever didn't like VeltPvP put together a false flag operation, trying to frame VeltPvP so that server would get shut down by the authorities or something. It's similar to swatting, which I've previously described as a common tactic among online gamers to try to beat an opponent whom is otherwise better than you.
Tonight, police in Hertfordshire, England have arrested the 19 year-old kid who supposedly was the dude who really sent out the bomb threats. No word on if he's an Arab or Muslim or whatever.
Here's my interpretation: A lot of people who are involved in the Minecraft community are rejects and losers. Minecraft isn't meant to have clan feuds or fights or whatever. Without a proper venue for player-to-player aggression, people do stupid crap outside of the game, like sending bomb scares to schools. This is also a great argument as to why anonymity online is good, so this sort of crap doesn't affect your offline life because people don't know anything about your offline life.
Put another way, to connect this to the violent videogame discussion, violence in games helps prevent violence offline. It doesn't prevent all of this (because swatting happens as a result of disputes in real player vs. player environments), but a great deal of the clashes that happen as a result of games stay in games, because it offers a closed loop of conflict resolution.
Minecraft can't “SETTLE IT IN SMASH!”
Ludwig's e-mail inbox is still plagued to this day by a dedicated Minecraft fan who handed over his address to a bunch of spam lists, as well as to ecommerce businesses when the guy made orders in Ludwig's name. Ludwig is forced to assume this kind of thing is common among Minecraft people, who are some of the most socially stunted kids around. Alternatively, this entire thing is an Islamic terrorism issue. Stay tuned?
Minecraft is otherwise supposed to be used as a tool to keep kids in schools, rather than make kids evacuate schools.