The University of Alberta has a club for pretty much everything, but there is only one that lets you build your own world. The U of A Minecraft Club was founded at the end of 2022 by three executive members: Devon Yanitski, Ritwik Rastogi, and Nolan Phillippon. They offer students a space to relax online, or meet up with other video game enthusiasts in-person, coordinated through their Discord server.
Yanitski, a third year student in the bachelor of science psychology program currently manages their marketing. Though the club started as a way to make connections with other gamers on campus, Yanitski said that the club grew way faster than I thought it would. We have over 100 [members] now.”
Yanitski also mentioned that the recent resurgence of Minecraft was a pivotal reason why the club became as popular as it has.
“Minecraft has a comeback. When it came out it was really popular, then it kind of died down. Over the past three years it became popular again,” Yanitski said.
The club hosts two Minecraft servers — one survival server and the other creative. Yanitski said that on the survival server, they “have had 400 people playing and they spent hundreds of hours building these crazy, complex builds.”
Yanitski has seen impressive towns pop up on the server. He said that 20 or 30 people often collaborate, using the same style of building so that they can create a town with a specific theme, such as the medieval style town.
The new server that the club has started working on aims to recreate the U of A campus.
“The plan for that is a unifying objective for all of our members in our club. But also once it’s completed to be [used as] the campus server as a way for new students to find their way around campus,” Yanitski explained.
“It’s like a digital version of campus, so [incoming students] can just wander around it online through Minecraft. That will make hopefully make the new experience less daunting for them.”
The club also competes in events with the intercollegiate Minecraft league for players interested in testing their skills in a higher-stakes environment. “Minecraft is a very diverse game. We have people who want to do creative things [and] we have people who want to do competitive things. We try to appeal to all those people [by having] competitive, creative stuff, and everything in between,” Yanitski said.
Especially in creative mode, Minecraft can be a fun game for those who do not really know what they are doing and just want to explore. One of the best parts of the game is the animals, from the obedient cats to the stoic llamas — Yanitski’s personal favourite is the squid.
Though Minecraft is an online game, Yanitski said that the club still hosts in-person events so that club members can get to know each other. They had their first meet-up in January with pizza, board games, and video games.
Making friends is also a big part of the Minecraft club experience. When asked about how students can benefit from the club, Yanitski said that “video games in general are a form of escapism, like reading a book.”
“You can just take a break from studying, relax and hang with friends, or just play on your own.”
If you are interested in signing up for the club and hearing about their events for the upcoming year, links to the Minecraft club’s discord can be found on posters across campus. They will be tabling at Fall Clubs Fair September 5 to 7 from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m..