Building Friendships in Minecraft in 2023

In the continuing adventures of my time back in Minecraft, I wound up spending a bunch of last weekend building a mountain to conceal the beginnings of a tower I had painstakingly created; helped a friend create a small lake/large pond; spent hours farming materials for and then building the central portion of the canopy of a massive tree (which is likely going to be scrapped, it sounds like); and then invesitgated a series of underground caverns that were full of resources, eerily silent creepers, and way too much lava for my personal comfort. I dabbled in magic, killed a lot of spiders, engaged in amicable trade, and did my best to save the lives of a bunch of fellow players who kept falling off things (my efforts were largely in vain, unfortunately). All-in-all, it was a busy but fun weekend of construction projects and trying to push myself through the boring but necessary parts of getting the enthusaistic reaction I desire when I eventually unveil my secret project to the rest of the server.

I’ve really been enjoying the social side of this. I don’t typically play games with more than a couple people, so the half-dozen or so who frequently show up for these sessions can be a lot more chaotic and loud than I’m entirely comfortable with, but it’s still nice. I enjoy quietly working on my project as a bunch of people excitely talk about their projects, exclaim in fear as monsters appear near them, or preemptively mourn their character’s death as they fall from an incredibly high place. It’s fun to occasionally jump in with a bit of useful information, a funny joke, a pun too many (the person running the server is, so far, the only person for whom I have voluntarily withheld my beloved puns), or a bit of emotional warmth and support whenever there’s a lull in the chaos. It’s also fun to join the clamor as we all talk over each other as we try to coordinate four different time-sensitive projects in the same voice chanell.

I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed chaos so much. It is exhausting and I definitely need to take more breaks in the future, but I am really enjoying it. For a group of people I’ve mostly never met in-person, who largely didn’t even know I existed more than a couple weeks ago, they’re really a fun bunch. They’re all trying very hard to match my preferred pronouns to my admittedly rather masculine voice to the point where I rarely need to correct anyone. Most of them correct themselves and the server owner does a great job of gently correcting and reminding everyone (she’s the common person connecting us all), so I almost never need to confront my fear of advocating for my needs/wants to strangers.

As someone who still has to frequently correct a lot of the people in their life, it feels so strange to not need to stay ever-vigilant with a bunch of strangers. I know that it might be easier, since these people don’t have a few to several years of experience saying different pronouns, but it sure feels strange. I try to avoid taking the effort (well, mostly the lack thereof in this case) people put into using my preferred pronouns as a testament to the way they feel about me, since I know it can take a lot of work to adjust to using different pronouns–doubly so if it’s not something you’ve ever done before. Still, it is difficult to be almost a year into openly using different pronouns and to have people I talk to all the time completely forgetting until I prompt them.

I wrote a few weeks ago about missing being a part of group activities and I think this is really stratching the itch. It feels so nice to be a part of something, even if it something as inconsequential as a Minecraft server. It just feels so good when people join the voice channel, when I see the efforts people are putting into their spaces, and when everyone remembers that I’m collecting a specific material so they all set theirs aside for my ridiculous efforts. It’s just nice to feel so casually valued. It’s not something I’m used to, as a introvert three years into an incredibly isolating pandemic and four years into removing all the toxic and unhealthy relationships from my life. I really hope I can get used to this.

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