Logo Leo Ariel

Minecraft Art

How I Ran a 20-Player Minecraft Clan at the Age of 12

Between the ages of 12 and 14, I had one passion: Minecraft Hunger Games. I accrued over 1,700 victories with 5,000 games played. I met hundreds of gamers, and scored thousands of internet points.

Minecraft Survival Games (MCSG) was the original battle royale, before the genre exploded in popularity in the late 2010s with Fortnite, PUBG, and Apex Legends.

The Birth of Battle Royale

As a child, I was obsessed with fantasy. When a new Percy Jackson book came out, it was handed around like wildfire in my elementary school. We kept waiting lists with 15 names on them. When the Hunger Games movie came out in 2012, it set the stage for a new era of my childhood.

Hunger Games Trilogy

The Hunger Games Trilogy

The Hunger Games is an annual event in which one boy and one girl aged 12–18 from each of the twelve districts surrounding the Capitol are selected by lottery to compete in a televised battle royale to the death.

The Minecraft version of the Hunger Games was simple. 24 players, loaded into a dome-shaped arena with loot scattered around the map. Last person standing wins.

Community Favorites (Maps)


Clan Wars: A Uniting Force

Instead of fighting alone, players established clans.

Clans were a group of people who played together, fought together, and engaged in battles with other clans. They were the glue that held the fabric together.

Anybody could make one, but there were a few good ones that everybody wanted to be a part of.

A clan had a Leader, Co-Leaders, Officers, Elites, Members, Trial Members, VIPs, and Cheerleaders. They ranged from 10-25 members. Here’s a clan I made back in 2013.

The Return Clan

The Return Clan. Source

Clan Forum Page

Not everyone participated in clans, but those who did were a part of a hardcore competitive group. Two clans decide on a series of maps to be played. They set up a match. Battles were usually 8v8. After the match, both teams log the result on their forum page.

A Hero Emerges

In 2012, my friend from school introduced me to the game. At first, we played together. Eventually, we went our separate ways. I was more competitive than my friends, and I wanted to grind & play with the best. Though we were still friends IRL, we went separate ways in-game. We joined separate clans and played with different groups.

Soon, I became obsessed. I played at every chance I could get.

While I had a few IRL friends who played, most of my friends were scattered across the US. I had more virtual friends than physical ones.

Over the course of a year, I became top 25 in the US, accumulated 1400 wins on my main account, and racked up a 58% win rate across 350 games on my secondary account..

During this period, my reputation grew & I quickly became known as one of the top players on the server.

Rise of The Rivals

It was time to try my hand at creating my own clan.

I teamed up with a guy named Corey and we made The Rivals.

It was a huge success. We dominated the US East Coast servers.

As a leader of The Rivals, I was in charge of recruiting people, organizing scrims and clan battles, creating TeamSpeak roles and permissions. Most importantly, I was there to win.

We organized clan battles. I remember downloading X-Ray hacks so we can spot the chests & plan our routes ahead of time. Then we would practice running our routes. We’d plan meetup spots. Like war games, we would do simulations.

When the clan disbanded, the forum page had 680 pages and 8,152 posts. We created a lasting legacy that went beyond our times.

We had one member (ItsGhostMC) who was a YouTuber. At that time, being a YouTuber was a big deal. He recorded a few of our clan battles. I dug up a few videos from the archive.

Clan Battles
  1. The Rivals vs ThePast

  2. The Rivals vs CyanVolts


Years after I left, I revisited the forums & saw past teammates shout me out for the contributions I have made.

My Legacy

Even though MCSG is no longer around & players have grown up, it will forever remain a vital part of my youth.

Pseudonyms and Pseudoskins

Origin Story

I had a friend who went by the name JoeSchmo11. I thought Joe Schmo was a cool name, so I named myself jspwn, short for “Joe Schmo pwns”.

| Pwn - Synonym for great.

| Origin - A World of Warcraft maps designer misspelled own as pwn. Consequently, ‘a player has been owned’ (ie. defeated) became ‘a player has been pwned’.

Given a second chance, I would’ve re-done my name, perhaps thrown in some vowels in there. Regardless, it became synonymous with who I was.

My in-game skin was a Charmander. I loved Pokémon as a kid, and I thought it was cool. Others had pandas or bears or narwhals.

Hunger Games Trilogy

Charmander Skin

No one else had a charmander. My skin became as iconic as my name.


My in-game name was jspwn.

My in-game skin was a charmander.

These two elements became my identity.

Your virtual character is you.

Niche Fame

Every person, every clan had a reputation. Inside the game, I was a legend. Outside, nobody knew who I was.

As the internet fragments into niche societies, we will see enclaves with all the politics, richness, and social dynamics of a nation but on a smaller scale. Ultimately, this will open the space for more people to find places they can call home.

Dawn of Digital Communities

Minecraft Survival Games was a social game. It wasn’t like Candy Crush, where you flip on for 5 min on a train ride. Nor was it like Chess, where you verse an opponent over the internet.

There was this community aspect that turned it from a pastime into a lifestyle. It was more like a team sport than a solo endeavor.

What will the future hold?

(1) People will spend more time in the digital space, not less.

(2) Internet-based communities will increasingly play a large part in people’s childhoods, like they did for mine.

Thanks Chris Wong, Maile Pedersen, Alicia Berberich, Nicolas Forero, Philippe Izedian, & Soo Young for their thoughtful feedback!