August 20, 2021

Celebrating Culture and Identity in Minecraft

The beauty of Minecraft is its freedom—the ability it gives players to traverse, build, and roleplay across a vast sandbox. Creators often dream up epic scenarios that reflect this adventuring spirit (just check out the ongoing Dream SMP), but a growing number are pioneers in a different way — they’re celebrating their own real-world identities within the game. Minecraft YouTube shows the power of this approach, rendering in unmistakable block form a wide array of people, cultures, and lives from across the globe.

Wherever the viewer is, there’s a good chance a Minecraft YouTuber has thrown a party in honor of their favorite local holiday or religious festivity. In Brazil, Amandinha celebrated Festa Junina (only to find it interrupted by zombies — classic Minecraft ), while Mều Channel threw a party for Tết, the Vietnamese new year, with her friends that culminated with a showstopping firework display. Swedish YouTubers Kimmy POWER and STAMSITE have even hosted midsummer events filled with bright sun and flowers, just like the real-life Scandinavian celebration.

Many viewers watch alone, but as the comments attest, the videos can offer a welcome social forum, not to mention an entertaining education. Here we talk to some creators who have celebrated everything from Diwali to International Mother Language Day to their own sexuality within the game.

Khatarnak Ishan is the channel of Mumbai-based gaming creator Ishan Khedkar.

How did you get started?

My first channel, Onespot Gaming, started in 2016 in English, and as I grew, my audience started asking for Hindi videos. Onespot Gaming already had too many viewers in Europe and the US, so I made Khatarnak Ishan just for [my Hindi audience].

When did you first have the idea of celebrating Diwali in Minecraft?

During the coronavirus lockdown, we weren’t able to celebrate [Diwali] with friends in our usual way. So I thought, let's celebrate in Minecraft. I can light up the place for my subscribers with fireworks. They’ll enjoy watching it and I’ll enjoy making it.

I love that you’re able to launch multiple fireworks at once. How did you achieve that effect?

That’s actually an in-game feature. In Minecraft, there’s redstone, which can be used to build mechanisms, automatic doors, stuff like that. I used it to make a firework dispenser and a clock. The clock sends pulses or signals to the dispenser, and so every second a firework lights up.

Do you think this Diwali celebration has strengthened a sense of community between you and your audience?

Definitely. Festivals are meant to do that in real life. They build a bond in society, bring your friends and relatives closer. I don't think anyone gets sad watching such content.

Mr. Dsb is 21-year-old, Dhaka-based YouTuber Rohan Khan Sakib, currently studying video game design.

Tell me about International Mother Language Day, and the traditions that you observed in Minecraft.

International Mother Language Day is very important in my country because it actually originated here to celebrate the Bangla language. We have different monuments, so I built a monument inside Minecraft, and then roleplayed myself giving flowers to pay respect to the freedom fighters of Bangladesh.

You’ve also celebrated Eid in Minecraft. Was it difficult creating your Eid content during Ramadan?

I made my videos at night. We have to fast from dawn until dusk, so I didn't do any recording or editing during the fasting time — I used to do it after the fast ended. When you're fasting it's really tough, and I think these videos help [my viewers] get through the day.

Were there any YouTubers that inspired you to create content celebrating your Bangladeshi identity?

Actually no — I kind of came up with it myself. But a few Bangladeshi YouTubers, like Asbond, have started doing it, too. Others are making their content in English, so people from different countries also get to learn about our culture, too. I think that's a positive thing.

TheFamousFilms is 28-year-old, Las Vegas-based Minecraft YouTuber Bryan Mendivil.

You make Minecraft roleplay videos. Can you explain what this means for the uninitiated?

Minecraft roleplays are basically story-driven videos with a lot of characters.

You often include LGBTQ+ storylines. What’s your favorite episode?

I came out in 2017, and from then [on], I knew I wanted to center myself in the story and to show that it's possible to have other love interests. A lot of people loved that I was adapting this part of myself into the content, and so one of my favorite episodes is the wedding from Origins of Olympus Season Two. In that episode, me, the son of Aphrodite, and another character called Inpu, the son of Anubis, got married. We fell in love.

How have you created such a respectful, welcoming audience?

I think we've cultivated the community we have now because we're all so positive. Overall, it's about talking to the audience, hearing them out, and creating a safe space for them to enjoy the channel.

Logic Pro X Gaming is the channel of 31-year-old blind Minecraft YouTuber Chris O’Meally.

In your videos, we see you interfacing with the screen and listening to additional audio cues. Do you think it’s important to show viewers this aspect of your experience?

I think so because I’m spreading awareness for a lot of features and mods that people don't know exist, as well as showing techniques I have in common with non-visually impaired players.

You’ve helped create some of these mods. How did that come about?

So Mojang, the developer of Minecraft, reached out to do a piece on their YouTube channel, and a whole lot of people who develop mods came across my channel. A community started forming and developers would sit in my stream and watch me play. We would talk about what I’ve struggled with, and over time we developed a set of mods to include auditory information on mobs, points of interest, crafting tables, [and] chests.

Your video defeating the Ender Dragon solo is incredible—that’s a tough task even in the best of circumstances.

In this particular video, I trained for a good two months practicing each individual skill that I needed to know — towering, performing water bucket landings, all while dodging the dragon and keeping track of everything else going on. I needed to make that muscle memory, and I actually ended up one-shotting that video.

How has Logic Pro X Gaming helped grow the blind Minecraft community?

If it weren't for the right people in the Minecraft YouTube community reaching out, I still wouldn't have the know-how or the connections to do any of this. It’s not just developers but chat moderators, and people who help with thumbnails and channel art. You know, it takes a village to make this channel happen — that’s why I always say we.