A 2b2t spawn render by u/IronException. Click to zoom in further

Welcome to 2b2t.org, one of the longest-running anarchy sandbox environments to date. The server is nine years old, and the world map is over 6.6 terabytes in size and growing, having been visited by more than 420,000 players throughout its lifespan. The server is quite unique, placing no restrictions upon the actions of its players. Users are free to create, destroy, cheat, and shitpost to their heart’s content, resulting in the tumultuous environment that persists there today.

The initial advertisement of the server on 4chan’s /b/ and /v/ makes the source of its rather unfiltered and hostile community plainly obvious; perhaps the greatest testament to this chaos is the sheer desolation of the spawn-point landscape, a place so barren of resources and so worn away by time that it’s tantamount to a battlefield. Here, countless players have collected blocks, fought each other, built farms and castles, explored ruins of the past, and poured grand stone lavacasts upon the massive world. Every player has left his mark on the server, big or small, whether that be in the form of a sign, a build, a group or even a fondly adopted gimmick (BuildSmash’s BibleBot comes to mind).

Contrary to what one might expect of a server whose main attraction is its unprotected, toxic nature, the kindness and creativity of 2b2t’s playerbase often shines through its thick veneer of hostility. It is not uncommon for players to band together to create elaborate towns and monuments, or to enact large-scale events and construct massive projects, such as the nether highways which stretch all the way to Minecraft’s world border of 30,000 kilometers. An older, modest example of this camaraderie is shown below, a community base that housed more than ten of the most notable players at the time.

A screenshot of SquidBase, 2011 (founded by policemike55,  passie05 and others)

Each one of these factors, combined with the early roots of the server, has forged a unique culture within it. The established community hates every influx of new players (usually referred to as “newfags”) with a passion, is excessively toxic in chat, spamming vapid garbage about 95% of the time, and cannot ever seem to agree on anything but a general hatred of each other. Many of the players will stop at nothing to destroy every base and build possible, and to disrupt every hint of peaceful interaction to be had. One example of such attention-seeking behavior is the griefing of ImperatorTerrae’s well-known Christ the Redeemer statue, destroyed by another well-known player, jared2013.

The Christ the Redeemer statue at Imp's Base, by ImperatorTerrae

The most significant difference between the established playerbase and outsiders is their take on ephemerality. While many would safeguard every one of their creations on other servers with plugin protections and become enraged by destruction, these players wholeheartedly accept, and even revel in, the notion that everything they create will someday be destroyed, as is the case in reality as well. Ironically, despite the peculiar attitudes and tendencies expressed by them, many players form the strongest and fondest bonds of trust between each other over their digital Lego blocks, becoming great friends making even grander creations. Occasionally, they even show the newfriends a bit of kindness, too.

Aside from the strictly ingame community, many users have been so inspired and captivated by their exploits that they have taken to creating their own content regarding the server, ranging from YouTube videos, to art, and even a comic. The sheer amount of effort put forth into these things is baffling, and does much to further ingratiate the seemingly ordinary server in the hearts all who have had the pleasure of taking part in it over the years.

The 2b2t Comic by THEJudgeHolden

However, all good things must come to an end, as the old adage goes. Just as a wonder of 2b2t's ilk rises, encompassing a slew of unique circumstances, people, and culture, the memories it forms just as unforgettable as they are grand, and imbued with the emotions of so many, does one fall.

The beginning of the end for this bastion of sandbox creativity arrived June 1st of 2016, in the form of a generic YouTuber who went by TheCampingRusher. Discovering the server for the first time, he began a let's play series, ushering in newfags by the thousands. The spawn region was teeming with young children, many of whom had never even played Minecraft before in their lives, incessantly begging for items and assistance in the chat, asking easily searchable questions, and insisting on identifying themselves as "factions" of players, rather than individual users.

A video of Fit killing dozens of new players - a far cry from his video style within the last three years

Due to this influx of players, the server's administrator was forced to upgrade the server hardware, and to establish a queueing plugin with which to regulate the constant stream of connection attempts. Between the destruction of massive monuments and bases, and the intense lag, nothing was out of the ordinary; the regulars have always been accustomed to these things, handling them with no complaints. Meanwhile, the established players plotted massive events and invasions, planning to significantly halt the flow of new users. This popularized a new YouTube channel by the name of FitMC, his videos of killing Rusher's fans very quickly garnering hundreds of thousands of views. Since then, Fit sold out the old playerbase, using it primarily for his own gain. He has since become known for his heavily exaggerated storytelling, his voice, and a number of other fifth-dimensional memes which maintain his popularity.

TheCampingRusher, Fit, and others like them are not themselves the main issues that plague havens like 2b2t, however much they are catalysts. A YouTuber cannot contend with the old playerbase in terms of dedication and passion. No, the main headache which not even they can repel is a diminishing of their culture and common attitudes; a change which is in nature numerical and unrelenting, something which the most vehement of opposition and potent of people cannot resist.

As with many niche communities that garner a mainstream appeal, the resident autists that made them what they are get displaced by the cursory sightseer. Places which once harbored creativity, different and unexampled things, become diluted by hazy attempts of outsiders to reinvent what was once perfected, to relive some dim, fleeting past which they never knew. Hives of discussion, however peculiar, reduced to shambles in a louder-than-usual obnoxious stream of borrowed memes, thoughtless retorts and generic Reddit-tier one-liners.

The camaraderie, the good (and ill) natured trolling and griefing, the needlessly and endearingly toxic dispositions, the totally random autism, and the aspirations to all things grand -- all gone by the wayside in the interest of money, and the appeasement of the sensitivities of but a few entitled spectators. Doubtless many communities, games, and forums have fallen to this onslaught of stubborn and unoriginal invaders (see 4chan post-2015), and not one of them has managed to survive the new internet.

So perhaps I'm wrong, and a gem like this will prevail yet. Whether it does or not, it did forge some wonderful memories in the end.

What is at the end of the trail?

"Yesterday, upon the stair,
I met a man who wasn't there!
He wasn't there again today,"
-Antigonish, by William Mearns

Oh, how I wish you'd go away!