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  • Phoebe Robertson

The Children Yearn for the Mines: Confessing to my Minecraft YouTuber Past

Words by Phoebe Robertson (she/her) 

CW: Online Sexual Harassment.

Ah, nostalgia—that bittersweet sensation that tugs at our heartstrings and transports us back to simpler times. When I first heard the theme for this week’s Salient, I knew exactly what I needed to share, but I couldn't help hesitating. Was I ready to confess my most significant, darkest secret? It's something so cringe-worthy that I've kept it buried deep within me for years; a secret so well-concealed that even my on-again, off-again partner of three years might not know it. But today, I'm taking the plunge and revealing all.

Brace yourselves. In high school, I was a Minecraft YouTuber. You read that right. The cringe factor is now officially off the charts. I can already sense the eye rolls and hear the keyboards clicking away, composing emails to Maia and Fran, suggesting they disown me for admitting that I was once a part of the unsavoury Minecraft YouTube phenomenon. It's the truth, and I'm here to face it.

Let's dive into this pixelated rabbit hole together, shall we?

Here's a fun fact about me: at the tender age of 8, I visited a friend's house and sat down at their office computer. Little did I know that this moment would change the course of my life forever. It was my first encounter with Minecraft, a game that would become my obsession. Over the next year, I embarked on a mission that involved saving every cent of pocket money, working at my dad's café, and maybe "borrowing" a few $2 coins from my parents' spare change jar. All of this was in pursuit of one goal: owning my own computer to play Minecraft.

Here's another tidbit for you: PewDiePie, the long-running king of YouTube, kicked off his epic journey with a Minecraft Let's Play video titled ‘Minecraft Multiplayer Fun’ back on 2 October  2010. That's right, even the biggest YouTuber of them all had a Minecraft phase.

As the years rolled on, Minecraft's popularity skyrocketed. A new breed of content creators emerged on YouTube, including SkyDoesMinecraft, Syndicate, Tobuscus, and many more. My personal favourites were The Yogscast, the trailblazers who introduced mods and custom maps into their gameplay. When I wasn't busy saving for my own computer, I was glued to the screen, watching these Minecraft Let's Plays with my two brothers, our eyes wide with wonder.

The Yogscast were founded in 2011. Lewis Brindley, known as ‘Xephos’, and Simon Lane, known as ’Honeydew’, collaborated to create content and expand their network. One of their most enduring contributions was the ‘Jingle Jams’: a series of livestreams held every December to raise money for charity. It all began when fans sent them presents during the Christmas season, only for Brindley and Lane to insist that the money be donated to charity instead. Fast forward to today, and the Jingle Jams have become the world's biggest charity gaming event, raising over £25 million since 2011.

Then came 2012: the year I finally acquired my very own laptop. It was also the era of Minecraft parody songs, which became an internet sensation. I remember playing Wii Sports Resort with my little brother, our laughter filling the room as we listened to The Yogscast's parody of the 1992 hit song ‘What's Up?’ by 4 Non Blondes, aptly renamed ‘HONEYDEWYEAYEA’. Lines like “And so I dig sometimes / For some coal and stone / And I think to myself / I'm all alone'" had us in stitches. After writing this article, that song was stuck in my head for the rest of the day.

The golden age of Minecraft, spanning from 2013-2015, was a whirlwind. It was a time when Minecraft Hunger Games took the world by storm, laying the foundation for the battle royale genre that Fortnite would later conquer. Parody songs continued to captivate us, and my brother, ever the mischief-maker, decided to become a Minecraft troll, detonating my precious base on our shared server. The fallout? A two-week ban from the game was imposed by our exasperated parents.

But as they say, what goes up must come down. In 2016, the Minecraft community faced a dark turn. YouTuber LionMaker faced allegations of inappropriate behaviour with underage girls alongside YouTubers Tobuscus, The Yogscast’s Sjin, and SkyDoesMinecraft. Popular drama YouTuber Keemstar claimed that the "Minecraft community is getting a reputation for being a safe place for paedophiles", tarnishing the credibility of Minecraft YouTubers. Basherverse, another prominent Minecraft YouTuber at the time, began creating inappropriate content with explicit thumbnails and public meltdowns on his own channel. I vividly recall watching these videos as a 14-year-old, unable to comprehend the gravity of the situation unfolding before my eyes.

From 2017-2018, it seemed like the Minecraft era was drawing to a close. Interest waned as content creators shifted their focus to new horizons like Fortnite, which burst onto the scene in 2017. TikTok emerged in 2016, and YouTube started to feature shorter content, further reshaping the digital landscape. More importantly, the kids who once eagerly consumed Minecraft content had grown up, leaving behind the blocky world that had defined their childhoods.

So there you have it: my journey through the highs and lows of high school football—I mean Minecraft—from the early days of discovery, to the glory years and the eventual decline. It's a testament to how a simple game can shape our lives, craft lasting memories, and even lead to some cringe-worthy YouTube adventures. Minecraft may have faded from the limelight, but the nostalgia it brings remains as vivid as ever, reminding us of a time when our biggest concern was crafting the perfect pixelated world.

If you want to find me, I’ll be relieving the nostalgia of a simpler time, crafting my world in blocks on my Minecraft server.


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