Metaverses, Masonry and Minecraft: The Future of Lodges

As many of us travel wearily down the virtual roads that lead to company Zoom meetings, remote school and medical visits that stretch the definition of telemedicine, there exists in the heart of Silicon Valley a much deeper and more connected vision of our online future.

That idea is called the Metaverse.

 

In short it is an all-encompassing virtual environment where users span an amalgamated virtual and physical world and are able to engage in transactions much like the real world.

Players use current virtual reality technology or new devices like augmented reality glasses.

All these products answer that in built want in us to be transplanted to a new place and time.

This desire to be highly connected across distance is why Fortnite is so popular; it is behind what was Facebook and now Meta; and it is a goal that drives Roblox to create real life luxury ‘stores’ in game from brands such as Gucci where virtual purses can cost upwards of $4000.

 

Is virtual fashion the next big luxury trend?
PHOTO CREDIT:  Jing Daily

Roblox

Roblox is an online game platform and game creation system developed by Roblox Corporation. It allows users to program games and play games created by other users.

Created by David Baszucki and Erik Cassel in 2004 and released in 2006, the platform hosts user-created games of multiple genres coded in the programming language Lua.

For most of Roblox’s history, it was relatively small, both as a platform and a company. Roblox began to grow rapidly in the second half of the 2010s, and this growth has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

– source: Roblox

The Metaverse concept isn’t new. More in the realm of science fiction for most of its history rather than science reality, many novels and movies have shown a persistent digital world where normal citizens can transverse themselves into a digital avatar and interact with a world in many ways similar to our 3D meet-space, but all contained in a globally connected system.

The internet was a first step, which also existed as fiction before implemented into the global system we know, use, and require to this day.

With the increase interest by venture capitalists and other Silicon Valley CEOs such as Mark Zuckerberg and Satya Nadella , the Metaverse version of our digital future is inching closer and closer to a reality.

Left: Mark Elliot Zuckerberg (born May 14, 1984) is an American media magnate, internet entrepreneur, and philanthropist. He is known for co-founding the social media website Facebook and its parent company Meta Platforms (formerly, Facebook, Inc.), of which he is the chairman, chief executive officer, and controlling shareholder.

Right: Satya Narayana Nadella (born 19 August 1967) is an Indian-born American business executive. He is the executive chairman and CEO of Microsoft, succeeding Steve Ballmer in 2014 as CEO and John W. Thompson in 2021 as chairman. Before becoming CEO, he was the executive vice president of Microsoft’s cloud and enterprise group, responsible for building and running the company’s computing platforms.

Unlike the virtual world of video games and metaverses, Freemasonry has existed in brick and mortar (quite literally) for centuries.

It has always been a social institution, one that requires members to interact and ritualize a number of practices in person.

This obviously was brought to a halt during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it left many lodges who were used to meeting in person to a weird limbo. Many Grand Lodges overseeing these lodges prohibited in person meeting and directed members to keep in touch virtually.

However, Closed meetings in which ritual work and other important topics could be discussed were postponed and no Grand Lodge gave permission or authorization to conduct these online.

Some brothers and Lodges took to Zoom by themselves for informal meetings in order to create some semblance of social connection in the midst of isolation; but this wasn’t always looked upon favorably as was the case in South Carolina where the PGM Mike Smith was removed and then this removal overturned.

While many lodges grappled with the right amount of digital allowance, one lodge had been practicing virtual meetings for years.

Castle Island Virtual Lodge 190, a Manitoba Canadian Lodge has been holding both open and closed meetings first on Second Life, a Metaverse beta game, starting in 2012, and has now moved to the Zoom platform.

This allowed them to create an educational resource for many Manitobans who were spread across the wide fields of Canada. Recently though, during the pandemic, these meetings saw a larger and larger presence from visiting brothers who wanted a Masonic experience.

Minecraft

There are many that argue that masonry and an online presence are not incompatible.

Some even say that the Metaverse exists currently, and the realm it exists in is one with connections to operational masonry.

For example, Minecraft was created in 2009, and soon after became a breakout hit, attracting the attention of Microsoft who purchased the software in 2014 for $2.5 billion.

With 140 million active monthly users it remains as one of the premiere places for people to meet, create and survive in a blocky facsimile of an earth-like world.

As the name implies, mining for stone and other materials and then crafting the raw ore and stone into fabulous architectural feats is one of the many motivations for players, but as with many of the video games today, the game has been modified and changed to be much more.

In the Minecraft expanded universe, there are shooter and racing games, highly detailed engineering simulations, but the most interesting application for Freemasonry is its use for education and performance of ritual in a virtual space.

And though clandestinely, this virtual Masonic future is already a reality.

Greek Temple lodge, built by l_amp

2builders2tools (2b2t) is a Minecraft server founded in December 2010. 2b2t is the oldest anarchy server [a] in Minecraft, as well as one of the oldest running Minecraft servers of any variety.

Additionally, 2b2t’s world is one of the longest-running server maps in the game, which has never been reset since its creation.

As the server has virtually no rules or authority, griefing [b] and hacking are common amongst players, with no risk of getting banned.

Griefing is another toxic behavior that many gamers use when playing. A griefer, or griefing is when a bad faith player deliberately harasses or tries to irritate other players within a game. They push aside winning and this becomes their main goal.

 

The server is permanently set to hard difficulty and player versus player combat is enabled throughout.

The server has seen over 724,000 players explore its procedurally generated map, increasing its file size to over 13.3 terabytes. 2b2t has been described in news media as the worst Minecraft server due to its playerbase and culture.

Spawn Masons

The Spawn Masons was a group started by Hermeticlock.

The group’s goal was to simply build and then destroy their creations.

According to Fit, they represent true anarchy, in which they understand that their bases will eventually be griefed so they blow them up when they are complete.

Like how Masonry can trace its origins to the protection and safety that was provided by their guild, these counterparts fostered a community of brotherhood and trust in a chaotic and dangerous world.

They have lodges, perform initiations, three degrees, and have elections to determine who their Worshipful leader is.

And as Minecraft is an operational Masonry world, they have constructed and maintained that largest immovable and practically indestructible building in the game: a large Square and Compass right over the area players log in.

Should Freemasons be proud that a clandestine group has borrowed their symbolism and ideology and transplanted it into a server known as ‘The Worst Place in Minecraft’?

Definitely not, but it is a lesson to them that the principles of brotherhood and charity can exist in the darkest places and that their ideals can find a place in this upcoming virtual world known as the Metaverse.

Freemasonry should wrest the grips of their image and name from those who would not exemplify the meaning of the Craft and forge a new path to the roads of what seems to be an inevitable virtual future.

About The Author

 

Michael Perry was raised into Indiana Franklin Lodge 313 in Indiana, PA in June 2021 and currently serves as Junior Master of Ceremonies.

He enjoys studying and writing for the Academy of Masonic Knowledge’s Master Masonic Scholar program,  wherein he can explore the esoteric aspects of freemasonry and how they influence our culture and communities.

Michael is a Computer and Information Technology teacher and an avid researcher and resides in Indiana, PA with his wife and three children.

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