Guest post by Elizabeth Barnes at Autism Mom.
Autcraft, the Minecraft server for children on the Autism spectrum, could become a victim of its own success.
In the almost three years since its inception, the Minecraft server has grown from a handful of players to over 6,000 registered members.
Recently Stuart Duncan, the creator and administrator of Autcraft, has realized that either Autcraft has to become able to support itself or he may have to close it down.
This could be devastating for the thousands of children on the spectrum and their families who rely on Autcraft as a safe, supportive place for them to play Minecraft, socialize, and grow.
WHAT IS AUTCRAFT?
Created by Duncan (“AutismFather” in the game) who not only has autism himself but also a child with autism, Autcraft was designed to be a safe place for children to play Minecraft online without experiencing bullying and other social unpleasantness that can happen on public Minecraft servers.
The Autcraft server is administrated by Duncan, and part-time by volunteer adults and players that include autistics, parents of autistic children and family members of someone with autism.
WHAT MAKES AUTCRAFT SPECIAL?
Autcraft is unique because it is a closed server – one has to apply to join and whitelist applications are individually reviewed and approved.
Most importantly, Autcraft is closely overseen by Duncan and Autcraft’s volunteer administrators and helpers
- Bullying, killing, stealing, griefing, etc., is not tolerated
- Swearing and misbehavior is not tolerated
- There is an in-game support system so that when a players needs administrator help, they can get it almost right away
- Players builds are protected using WorldGuard so that no one can damage them by accident or on purpose
- All blocks placed, blocks broken, items dropped, picked up and more are tracked to see exactly what happens anywhere on the server
Duncan has always refused to charge players fees to join – he doesn’t want any child on the spectrum to be excluded from Autcraft because they don’t have the means to join.
WHAT PARENTS AND PLAYERS HAVE TO SAY ABOUT AUTCRAFT
Autcraft has been featured by numerous news outlets such as the TODAY Show in Australia, the Voice of America, BBC radio, among others, each describing how valuable the Autcraft experience has been for children on the Autism spectrum:
While Duncan started Autcraft to give kids an outlet to play a game they loved, it has quickly become a godsend for parents and therapists who credit it with their children’s incredible developmental gains. “We’ve heard from parents whose children’s therapists have been shocked with how much progress they’ve made and they’re like, ‘What are you doing different?’ and the parents say, ‘Autcraft’” ~ News.Com.Au
But the best way to understand is to hear it directly from the players and their families.
Our family has benefited immensely from Autcraft. Our son learned good online behavior, how to cooperate with others, and how to value rewards for positive behavior. Autcraft has been nothing but a great support for us.
And we are not alone in our positive Autcraft experience:
Autcraft is a must for any person with ASD! Autcraft has done things that years of therapy has not; In a few short weeks playing Autcraft, tarebear8805 has finally began asking for help, truly telling us what she needs, and, most of all, is finally recognizing that her actions do affect others … Autcraft teaches those with ASD in a way they can understand in an environment they understand, leading to them having the ability to actually generalize and effectively use what they have learned in in the real world! Autcraft has given us so many wonderful things, including the ability for our child to truly be an active part of our family! A huge thank you to those creators, admins, and others who have worked on Autcraft! ~ tarebear8805’s family
When I joined Autcraft I had very few friends, no self-confidence and had never felt like I belonged, that all changed when I joined. From the moment I joined I had so many people offering to show me around, help me build and be my friend. Autcraft gave me a place where I knew I would never be judged or bullied for who I am. Throughout my time on the server I have learnt so many things, I have made friends and I have even been able to become a Jr Helper on the Server, things I never thought possible. Autcraft isn’t just a Minecraft Server to me, It’s a place where I feel at home. ~ ChesyPleas
This video from an Autcraft player beautifully and simply sums it up:
HOW YOU CAN HELP
The publicity Autcraft receives has increased applications and membership exponentially. But publicity doesn’t equal funding, and to manage Autcraft Duncan is effectively working a second full-time job for no pay. Eventually something has to give.
Rather than lose Autcraft, Duncan is engaging in a campaign to make Autcraft self-supporting. Here’s what you can do to help:
- Donate – You can donate on the Autcraft website and you can donate to support Stuart Duncan on Patreon
- Buy Autcraft merchandise – Proceeds from merchandise sales go back to Autcraft
- Buy Ranks – If you are a player or parent of a player, buying ranks and other perks in the game supports Autcraft
- Buy advertising time on the website – This is great if you run a business, or want to wish a player a happy birthday, etc. (email your interest to firstname.lastname@example.org)
There are non-monetary things you can do to help, too:
- Grants – Do you know of grants that can help support Autcraft, either Autism or non-Autism based, for individuals or businesses? Can you assist with grant application writing?
- Business services – Do you know how to set up a corporation in Canada? Do you know someone who can? Can it be done for free for Autcraft?
- Server services – Do you know how to maintain and update a Minecraft server? Do you know someone who can? Can it be done for free for Autcraft?
- Watch YouTube – Autcraft has a YouTube channel and the videos are monetized with advertisements. Go watch videos, share them, and ask your friends to watch, so that Autcraft can get the ad revenue.
- Ask others for donations – Do you know someone who is looking for a good cause to support with funding? Please ask them to consider supporting Autcraft.
And finally, the easiest thing you can do is to please share this article with as many others as you can, because every little bit helps.