Deceit, prejudice, and hatred: How a community-turned-experiment showed the worst of humanity

The Beginning

I’m the first player on the server!

– L. F., my classmate

I actually got the idea for hosting a Minecraft server while on the dinner table. It was late November, 2023, and we had just finished our midterm exam by then.

I have always wanted to host my own Minecraft server, and I actually managed a Minecraft server with some random people that I met on the internet, but that’s a story for another day. A Minecraft server sure sounded fun, and many of my classmates played Minecraft, so it seemed to be a great idea. I called my ISP to give me a publicly discoverable IP address (which was way more cumbersome than I thought, shame on you China Unicom), set up port forwarding along with DDNS to my domain name, installed the server software (I went with Paper at first), and I’m ready to go! Woohoo!

The next day, I told my classmate, LF. and ZH., about my Minecraft server. They were thoroughly excited, and joined the server right away. As LF. would later proudly proclaim to my other classmates, “I’m the first player on the server!” It all seemed to go quite well. They built a small and rather ugly (no offense) wooden house along the shorelines of the spawn point.

I decided that the server needed a name. After some deliberations, I decided that “A Seedy Place” would be the best name. It was partly inspired by the location in Genshin Impact named “A Warm Place” where the Melusines lived, and by name of the advancement (achievement) in Minecraft that you get after planting a seed for the first time, “A Seedy Place”. A simple logo was made – a Minecraft wheat seed on a light blue background. Now, the server would be known as “A Seedy Place”, or ASP for short.

To show their support for the server, the two first players built a giant “ASP” block atop their wooden house. The story of ASP thus commences.

The Fun

I was… so moved. You know, I’ve been through a lot this year, and the celebration really made it.

– YM., my classmate

I thought the server was going to die really quickly, because it’s something that I didn’t plan for carefully and basically thought up about on a whim. Contrary to what I thought, the server didn’t die.

Surprisingly enough, people quickly became addicted to the server, and the most notorious one spent over 10 hours within the first week of the servers’ launch, and quickly exhausted main content of Minecraft, including the Nether and the End. Over popular demand, the server moved from being Paper-based to being Forge-based, which meant that modifications (mods) can now be installed on the server. Some mods, starting with Twilight Forest and the Aether, were added, which were supposed to allow the server not to die as quickly as I thought.

It was unbelievable seeing other people having the same interests as you truly enjoying what you created. It was a great sense of achievement, and piqued my curiosity seeing everyone build what they desire. It would seem that my classmates are incredibly talented. One of the most amazing thing that I’ve seen on the server is an above-ground giant water cube aquarium that’s built by ZH., with coral reefs, a conduit, a underwater house, and all.

All of that went great for a few months. Slowly, more people from my class joined ASP. It was first YM., and then YC., even the people that I thought never played games joined ASP. It seemed to be amazing. In fact, it was amazing.

The story of ASP probably reached its peak around the Chinese New Year. On the Chinese New Year Eve, during a time where all of us are separated in their parents’ hometowns visiting relatives, members of ASP all joined the server just before the new year’s bell rings to listen to music together and set off a round of virtual fireworks together. We counted down, and just as the countdown reaches 0, the music reached its climax and the virtual fireworks went off. It was an unbelievable feeling, almost indescribable with words, with all of your emotions, happy, nostalgia, and the likes, peaking at once. Truly stunning.

The Meltdown

Because he is a ****ing *****.

– JH., my classmate

The server grew. People invited each other. Soon enough, students from other classes also joined ASP. The server reached a peak of 5 daily active users, and more mods were added as people wanted to enrich the gameplay more. People built even more fabulous bases and creations, all of which made me feel like ASP is on a positive-feedback loop.

Something happened, however, that changed the course of ASP entirely.

It began with a simple act of burglary. JH. stole some raw materials from the base of ZX., and soon enough, ZX. found out that some items in his chests were missing. ZX. sent a furious message in the server’s group chat, yelling that nobody shall steal items from him again.

A couple of days later, JH. found that some of his items were missing (who took these items is still unknown to this day), and casted doubt on ZX., whom JH. stole from just a few days earlier. ZX. happened to be from another class, and JH. was in my class. JH. spread the word about his suspicion, and knowing what supposedly happened, people from my class who also happened to be on ASP started to privately insult ZX., such as “that ***** looks like he has Down syndrome.” Eventually, the insults were extended to the entire class of ZX., with some proclaiming that “people from class five (ZX.’s class) are not even valuable as humans.”

JH. took a lava bucket from my classmate ZH.. With the lava bucket, he burned the entire base of class five. When what he did was found out, drama ensued. The class five students asked who it was that burned their base, yet nobody claimed responsibility, with JH. attempting to shift the blame to others. Flame wars and unimaginable threats, all that you can imagine that a bunch of teenagers can do online.

Soon enough, JH. led an effort to build a giant wall around our classes’ base, intending to keep the “fivers” out and to promote his “long-held belief of class segregation.” The wall was eventually successfully built, lasting long into the dawn of the server.

The Worst of Humanity

The Wave (or Die Welle in German) is a 2008 German film, where a history teacher starts an experiment in forming an autocratic dictatorship within the classroom. Within merely days of constantly belaboring the ideas of collectivism, ostracization of heredity and other classes, and absolute subordination, the students unwittingly started to embrace fascism.

ASP was a fun experimental server at first, but eventually turned into a social experiment that showed the worst parts of humanity. Deceit, prejudice, and hatred, along with a tendency to authoritarianism, all manifested themselves in the short three month time period of the server’s operation. The volunteering participants hated each other wholeheartedly, and formed cliques that hated each other even more. Eventually, the hate grew into almost ultranationalism, with participants dehumanizing each other and sending each other threats that were absolutely unbelievable for high school students.

It was unbelievable. I never knew that my classmates had such a dark side to them. I thought all of my classmates are the people that I can just and hold dearly to. It turns out, on the internet, people almost immediately tear down their friendly disguises and let their natural desires and sins devour themselves, only under the guise of partial (not even full) anonymity. The internet somehow incentivizes people to show the worst part of themselves – their greed, their prejudice, their deceitfulness, and their hatred towards each other.

The End

Morally dubious, disreputable.

– Definition of “seedy” in the Oxford English Dictionary

It was unfortunate, but it was also inevitable. Now that I think about the whole event again, I realize that the name “A Seedy Place” might have already foreshadowed the whole event happening, for that other than “having many seeds”, seedy also meant “morally dubious, disreputable.” It almost felt like a giant joke that has been played on me and the others who enjoyed ASP.

A couple of weeks later, ASP was effectively shut down after I disbanded the group chat that originally hosted the discussions for it. I didn’t want to trouble myself with it anymore. All too tragically, what started as a fun experiment ended in abrupt chaos.

As I was about to close down the server, I took a final screenshot of ASP. It showed the “Berlin Wall” that JH. and his classmates have built, originally intended for “class segregation”. Even the internet firewall doesn’t really matter, as the true darkness of humans lies in the wall they build in their hearts. (April 26, 2024)

TL; DR. I hosted a Minecraft server on a new server box that I bought for home for only about CN¥200 (around US$28). At first, I hosted the server just for fun and just for a couple of classmates that would join the server. However, slowly yet unexpectedly, the server expanded beyond our tiny class on its own with people inviting their own classmates. Ultimately, after an uncomfortable inter-class conflict that showed the worst parts of my classmates whom I held so dearly to myself, I decided to effectively shut down the now no longer fun at all server.