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When Autcraft began, way back on June 23rd, 2013, the plan was simple: give autistic children a place to play Minecraft where bullies and trolls couldn't hurt them.
That was it. End of list.
I was shocked when emails came flooding in despite the fact that I had never advertised it anywhere. The one and only mention that I had made of it was on my own personal Facebook profile wall. But word spread like wildfire and I quickly realized that there was much going to be much more to this... to all of this... because Autcraft was needed for much more than originally intended.
What Autcraft Became
Autcraft became a community, a safe haven, and a home to people of all ages who were feeling alone, or scared, or depressed, and even to just those who felt fine but just wanted to be with people that they could relate with.
Autcraft became a life changer and a life saver for thousands of people around the world.
As word got out, Autcraft's role continued to grow and evolve. With research articles teaching and articulating what we do better than we ever could, with an invitation to give a TED Talk, with the gaming world taking notice, and even the news media being eager to share such a positive story... Autcraft became a source of inspiration as well as information for many people.
Experts, such as professors, researchers, doctors, and more, began to see that they were wrong about many aspects of autism and video games. Autistic people were hungry for friendships and to work and play with others. They were kind and supportive and encouraging of each other. They most definitely did not lack empathy and very much could come together to create a safe and supportive community.
People learned that video games aren't just a mindless distraction from reality. Applied properly, video games could become a powerful tool for learning, for build social skills, and for personal growth. People, in general, tend to learn more and develop more when they feel safe, and happy, and are having fun.
Over the years, we've held many events, we've had many amazing visitors who generously gave their time to talk with the players, we've introduced many new concepts to the game itself such as shiny mob heads, a notification system for when your name is mentioned, virtual calm rooms (snoezelen rooms), and even some features that were later introduced to the core part of the Minecraft game itself, such as chat delay and line spacing.
I was asked recently what my favorite memory from the last 10 years is and I honestly can't pick just one. So much has happened but I thought I'd go over a few of my favourite things:
I don't have a favorite memory, I have thousands of favorite memories.
What Autcraft Means to Me
On the server, we made an area for players to write in a book what Autcraft means to them. The responses have been amazing. I thought I'd share my thoughts here.
Apart from my own two children, Autcraft has been the most amazing thing that I've ever been a part of.
People ask me all the time why I have the rank of Admin on the server and not Owner and the answer is simple... it's because we all own a part of Autcraft.
Everyone comes together to support and encourage each other, to make sure that no one is ever putting anyone down, not even themselves, to offer help and friendship to anyone who needs it, and to remind each other that they are who they are and that's great and they are accepted here.
No one here is judged by the colour of their skin (we all have very colourful Minecraft skins!), or where they live, or where they come from, or how much money they have, or which bathroom they use, or who they love, or how old they are, or what their education level is, or what their beliefs are... on Autcraft, none of that matters. All that matters is who we are and how we treat each other.
We all make Autcraft what it is. We all have had a hand in keeping this going for 10 years now.
I am just as lucky to be a part of Autcraft as anybody.
Thank you for being a player, a parent, a supporter, a follower, a fan... thank you for believing in something that, to many outsiders, is just a silly little Minecraft server.
Thank you for making all of this possible for me and for the thousands of people that this has meant so much to over the years.
Autcraft has changed and saved my life too.
I have you to thank for that.
- Stuart Duncan (AutismFather)
Here are some 10th birthday!
Happy anniversary AC!