Over the weekend, Animal Crossing’s Tom Nook started trending on Twitter. Many gamers were confused — Nintendo’s island-exploring game hadn’t received an update or content, so why would the raccoon entrepreneur be so popular?
On Twitch, Thomas “TommyInnit” Simons was roleplaying on the video game Minecraft, pretending that fellow player Awesamdude was Tom Nook, communicating in the raccoon’s garbled gibberish. Over 250,000 people watched Simons’ livestream,
These players were creating content in their own roleplaying playground they call the “DSMP” and their fans can’t get enough.
Minecraft, the voxel-based building game that allows you to create a world in any way you deem fit, has been a staple of YouTube culture for the past decade. In 2012, when YouTube changed the algorithm to promote watch-time over just views, gaming Let’s Play channels soared in popularity. Content creators like Jesse “McJuggerNuggets” Ridgway (4 million subscribers) and Adam “SkyDoesMinecraft” Dahlberg (11.3 million subscribers) became internet celebrities overnight, but that surge only lasted for around four years and their popularity has all but died out.
With the 2020 pandemic, “Minecraft” on YouTube is more popular than ever.
What is the “Minecraft” Dream SMP?
SMP in Minecraft stands for “survival multiplayer,” a game mode that takes place on a server where the only purpose is to just build, exist, and focus on surviving. The Dream SMP or DSMP was started in May 2020 and is an invite-only server that features 33 of the top Minecraft content creators like Thomas “TommyInnit” Simons, “Wilbur Soot” Gold, and George “GeorgeNotFound” Davidson. These “Dream Team” members feud with each other, play around, and create content for their fan base.
Dream is one of the fastest-growing and most successful YouTube stars of the last year. He currently has over 16 million subscribers. In June of 2019, he was gaining three subscribers a month but by November of that year, he was gaining 600,000. His popularity skyrocketed after the creation of the DSMP and by August of 2020 he reached his sub-growth peak, pulling in over 2.6 million new subscribers that month.
One of the reasons his channel grew so rapidly was due to the DSMP and its resulting collaborations, allowing storylines to travel across different channels. Having a continuous narrative pushed throughout a series of gaming videos and streams is nothing new — Let’s Players have been creating stories with the help of games since their inception. But Dream and his cohort have established a Marvel Cinematic style universe, where your favorite creators act out with each other and you never know who might show up.
“I, like many others, enjoy the storyline and roleplay that the Dream SMP has,” creator KianKSG told Insider. With nearly 200,000 subscribers, KianKSG creates almost daily uploads cataloging the drama and information for those that need a guide.
“The Dream SMP has become interesting to many, due to the Role Play aspect it has,” KianKSG said. “The server has a storyline and, each stream, something is added to it. This hasn’t been done by many other servers before and, because of this, it helped the server gain popularity.”
The Dream Team Wiki is packed with over 600 pages and tens of thousands of words about the daily antics of the DSMP. Events get names like the “Manberg-Pogtopian War” (which was a server-wide civil war), “The Manberg Rebellion” (where the European filled L’Manberg stronghold had another war), and “The Exile Conflict” (another war started by a pair of YouTubers robbing another’s house, leading to a trial).
Cataloging each individual moment on the DSMP has become an entire genre of YouTube, pulling in hundreds of thousands to millions of views. Those that can’t watch multiple-hour-long streams but want to keep up with the content can visit these channels and catch up.
“Because of the storyline being complicated and hard to get into, many people are turned away by the idea,” KianKSG said.
The Disc Saga
The longest-running and most impactful series is “The Disc Saga.”
DropsbyPonk, who has over 250,000 Twitch followers, had destroyed the house of Sapnap, with 2.4 million subscribers of his own. In retaliation, Sapnap destroyed Ponk’s treehouse, causing TommyInnit to join the server. Dream, in an attempt at punishment, took away a pair of rare musical discs and would only return them when Tommy agreed to stop fighting and hand over a rare chest plate.
This started a series of attacks and drama that took place from July 2020 to January 2021. These discs would become valuable objects of power throughout the DSMP and YouTubers would fight to own them. Most recently, TommyInnit and YouTuber Tubbo, who has over 900,000 subs, started an insurrection on the server, locking Dream in an inescapable prison. Players only get three lives before they are canonically dead, adding a bit of tension to these fights.
The Impact of the Dream SMP
The server antics and popularity of the DSMP has affected the entire internet cultural landscape. DSMP-related Twitter hashtags either pop up randomly or at the behest of certain creators, soaring to the top trending, confusing everyday people using Twitter to doom scroll about politics or COVID-19. Hashtags like #dreamsharted, #clingytwt, and #dreamsmpfanart fill the void, sometimes creating beautiful results.
Dream into the Dreams verse
— 𝙾𝚗𝚢𝚡 ft.dying (@baicxs) January 21, 2021
— Nate (Commissions Open) (@NahtesArt) January 25, 2021
The hashtags themselves can even commemorate important milestones. On Saturday, Awesamdude revealed his face for the first time, causing #handsamdude to trend number one in the United States.
Dream’s roleplaying servers go far beyond the walls of Twitter, affecting other content creators on YouTube. Minecraft content is more popular than ever, with uploads consistently filling the front page of YouTube gaming alongside juggernauts like “Among Us” and “Fortnite.”
Felix “PewDiePie” Kjellberg, the most popular YouTuber with 108 million subscribers, has started to livestream himself playing Minecraft without his face for the first time in decades. “Dream, no face cam, no face reveal, massively popular,” Kjellberg said bluntly in a recent video.
Minecraft has a simplicity to it that makes it timeless but compelling — it can be a stage where the personality of the gamer can shine through. “Anything you can imagine can be done on Minecraft and so many new creators come around each year which allows for new ideas that no one has ever seen,” KianKSG said.
With the DSMP showing no signs of stopping and fans clearly still engaged, it’s clear the dream is far from over.