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We are Ellis & Michelle Deacon; we run a Minecraft server and web site called Win Family Survival. We set up our server initially for our own three young children and their friends to use, we wanted to create a safe place for them to play online, that we controlled the content on.

Recently we took part in an anti-bullying campaign as part of Autism Awareness month, this campaign focused on how children with different autistic conditions were being bullied whilst trying to play Minecraft online, it was during this campaign that we decided that we wanted to do more to support these children and their families whilst playing Minecraft online.

Both Michelle & I suffer from some significant illnesses ourselves, and have been medically retired from our jobs with Northamptonshire County Council, where we worked for Adult Health and Social Care Teams. We both feel that whilst we are unable to work, we should do our best to give something back to society, with this in mind we decided to transform our Minecraft servers into a safe place designed, managed and run specifically for children that have autistic conditions and their families, this place is called SafeCraft.

Where did we start?

Right at the beginning of this project we looked at the key factors that caused players to be upset and get angry when playing on other Minecraft servers, we found out that the biggest issue both children and parents were facing included; bad language, verbal bullying, teasing, breaking players hard work (this is known as Griefing) and stealing items they had gathered in game, and finally having their player killed whilst in the game.

These issues are unfortunately all too common on some of the larger and less personal servers, servers where numbers of players online means more income for the server owners, and with such huge numbers (this can literally be thousands at one time) it is almost impossible to moderate or manage incidents let alone trying prevent them from happening in the first place.

Over the last few months we have tirelessly rebuilt our Minecraft servers from the bottom up, not only have we updated software but we have also rebuilt the worlds that are there for the children to play in, we have made server navigation as simple as walking through a gateway, we have used visual representations as well as notices and signs to help people move around.

Improving In Game Chat

We have also updated our servers to have the latest in ‘Chat Filtering’ plugins, these filters actively watch in game chat, and look for abusive, racist, harmful or potentially harmful words and phrases, and then either blocks them completely from appearing in the online chat, or replaces them with harmless phrases, not only does this protect players from seeing offensive chat, but it also warns the person that typed the offending chat, warnings will be given on occasions of minor attempts to breach the filter, more serious attempts to offend people will see the player being automatically ‘Kicked’ from the game server.

Protecting player’s buildings etc.

As we mentioned earlier, one of the key issues faced by players on some server is having things they have built or items/resources that they have crafted and obtained being destroyed (Griefed) and items stolen, to address this we have approached the problems with several tools to help us. Firstly we use the latest plugins that protect in game chests, furnaces, doors, paintings and item frames, as soon as a player places one of these items down they automatically become locked and registered to the user that places them, no other players can access them, unless the owner adds another player to the access list for each chest, door etc.

Secondly we use ‘Protection Stones’ these are special blocks that create an automatic region around them that is completely protected by the player that placed the block, different stones create different sized regions, everything within the area around each protections stone is protected, this could include trees, building, mines etc. absolutely everything within the bounds of the region, players obtain protection stones from using our in game/website store, where they can be purchased for points (no items in game are sold for real money).

Finally we use a system within the game that allows us to ‘rollback’ any form of damage or griefing, the system monitors pla

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