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Minecraft launches Chat Report feature, but do we really need it?

Minecraft has come out with a new update once again. 

Minecraft is currently the best-selling game in the world, having sold over 238 million copies worldwide. Continuous updates to its game’s servers keeps its players enticed, while also bringing new audiences.   However, the Minecraft developers have recently announced the new arrival of a controversial feature, and it is not what any of us would have expected. 

The sandbox-style video game has been around for nearly 11 years, so fans are used to new features being constantly added in-game. However, when a chat report system was released just two months ago, long-time fans of the game were not impressed.   

The newly implemented chat report system was introduced as an online safety precaution to protect its users from any form of cyberbullying. The system is designed so that players who are being harassed or bullied can submit a report about the incident.  If the player is found to have been bullying or harassing other people, they will be temporarily suspended from Minecraft’s online servers. Minecraft claims that all reports will go through a team of physical people and not an algorithm, but many players are starting to question if this is true.  

Many old fans of the game tried to make sense of the new system, but still found many flaws. When using chat in-game, many words had been censored, even those with no harmful meaning. Other areas which allow for edited text include signs, nametags, and objects, have all been blotted out or replaced with hashtags. Since Minecraft is a game geared toward all ages, many older members of the community argue that this new system and its punishment are way too controlling. They have also argued that the punishment for cyberbullying is too harsh, as many people use Minecraft as a means to connect with friends, while others rely on playing the game in front of a large audience for income.   

The majority of community feedback in regards to the chat report feature falls into the same category— that it is pointless and annoying. Many Minecraft communities are made by teens and adults, so the rules do not exactly fit them. Plus, they point out that language will only evolve, as many players can easily find loopholes in chat if they really want to insult someone. Common methods include using alternate spelling of certain banned words, or replacing letters with symbols in the word so that it is still recognizable to the victim. The new rules of chat could easily be evaded, as many have done so for years since online communication has existed. 

So far in this article, ‘Minecraft’ has been referred to as a single entity, but in reality, it is more complicated than that. Minecraft is run by Mojang Studios, a Swedish video game developer. In  September of 2014, Microsoft bought Mojang, along with all the intellectual rights to its games, including Minecraft. Because of this, many players suspect that Microsoft might be behind the sudden change in direction with Minecraft’s updates. But why does that matter? Well, for one thing, Microsoft has been known to pressure Mojang into altering the way players use the game before, such as requiring players to register a new account directly to Microsoft instead of Mojang nearly two years ago. While Mojang is still mainly in control of the majority of decisions regarding the game, it is clear that Microsoft still wants certain aspects of the game to be changed, regardless of the community feedback.  

To further separate the goals of Mojang and Microsoft, many fans of the game have further theorized Microsoft’s intent through a YouTube video released on Minecraft’s official channel, titled “The FINAL Secrets of Minecraft!!”. The video is the ending of a series of other videos produced by Minecraft, mainly focusing on the behind-the-scenes process of developing Minecraft, However this time, the video starts off a little differently. Many fans speculate that the events in the video, shown through a Minecraft stylized animation, are a purposefully allegorical representation of Mojang’s role in the decision with the new chat report feature.  

A large part of Minecraft as a whole does include its multiplayer function, so what will happen if navigating communication suddenly feels impossible? As of right now, it seems unlikely that Microsoft is willing to back down even to the large majority of the Minecraft community, but it is still important to realize the bigger picture of the things people enjoy on a day-to-day basis. 

In a world where it seems as if everything is controlled by a larger corporation, it is vital to recognize and separate the actions of one group of people from another. Next time, when you open up a new world or join a game with a friend, try to keep in mind who is really pulling all the strings.

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