Nathan Martin, a freshman studying computer science, took matters into his own hands when he saw thousands of BYU-Idaho students stuck at home due to the statewide stay-at-home order.
He decided that just because students are cooped up does not mean they should lose the BYU-I sense of community.
“I like Minecraft,” Martin said. “It’s wholesome, it’s fun, and BYU Provo has a Minecraft server, so why not us.”
Martin hosted Minecraft servers in the past, but they never gained any traction. This time Martin paid a website to host the server so it could be up and running all hours of the day.
“I started out with paying $5 a month, which was the lowest option,” Martin said. “Then I posted the server information on the BYU-I Reddit page and got a few people to join.”
Though it started off slow, the Reddit post currently has 29 upvotes and 14 comments.
“My little brother saw the Reddit post and told me and my sister about the server,” said Alden Legler, who plans on starting school at BYU-I in the fall. “When quarantine started, it seemed like a really fun way to connect with people from BYU-I.”
Starting a public server brought challenges Martin did not expect. The first was having a way for members of the server to communicate with each other when not playing Minecraft. As a solution, Martin started a Discord group. This would allow players to send messages back and forth as well as have online voice chat.
Then there was the issue of people stealing and destroying other players‘ things. At one point, Martin restarted the whole world with a new map. He also decided to make Andrew Lunsford, a freshman studying construction management, a moderator.
“He is like my boots on the ground,” Martin said. “Together we added quality of life details, like the ability to lock your chests so no one can steal stuff.”
With the first few challenges solved, the server grew with new players.
“People are starting to put up more shops and the economy is really starting to grow,” Legler said. “We all do things to help each other out and it really makes it feel like a community.”
Martin said there are currently 20 active players each week on the server, which blew his expectations out of the water. Since starting, he upgraded the server twice, with plans to continue upgrading as more players join.
“I plan to keep the server free to play, even though it can get pretty expensive to upgrade,” Martin said. “If it gets to the point where I need to upgrade a couple more times, I will add a donate button, that way players can help keep the server going.”
His long-term goal for the server is for players to come and make it their own. If players want to stay in groups of two or three, that is fine with him. If players want to get 30 people together for a massive build, he is all for it.
“I don’t want to be a dictator that says you have to do this, or you have to do that,” Martin said. “It’s really up to the players and how great they want to make it.”