On February 26th, 2021, James Turner commenced the final stream of season one of his Punch-A-Chunk world. The culmination of 13 months of work was, based on the reaction from his chat, as therapeutic to those watching during a pandemic as it was to James himself.
The mood in the chat began both celebratory and thankful. What started as a pre-pandemic joke in February 2020 clearly became a salvation for both James and his viewers as the community grew. And as a lurking member of that chat for most of season one, I can state how positive and welcoming that community has been, and how equally peaceful and entertaining the stream was. It’s chill in a way that was just wonderful and is hard to describe.
So what was it? It’s Minecraft but in chunks. In Minecraft, the worlds load a chunk at a time, or in a 16×16 set of blocks. To punch a chunk is to take that chunk from the top all the way down to bedrock.
James curated a list of guidelines for his Punch-A-Chunk. Essentially, he removes the blocks one layer at a time, and he didn’t cheat by using any commands to get free stuff, free items, or upgrades.
The journey began around his home base, which is made up of the unpunched interconnected chunks upon which he built his home and various other buildings. He also punched out the underside of an underwater temple and around his portal to The End. He also punched a chunk in the Nether and in the End.
James is a member of Loading Ready Run, and he’s a genuinely wonderful human being. His stream has raised money for charity and been a caring and genuinely brilliant safe space on Twitch, which can at times be as toxic as the rest of the internet.
And while there will be a season two to look forward to, there’s nothing like the first, with all of its experiments, challenges, and unknowns. It’s why I’m writing this. It’s why the community now exists. It’s why over 400 people tuned in for the extra-long, final chunk-punching.
After the final block was punched and the inventory was cleaned out, James went fishing as he often ends his streams. He then allowed the chat to tour his entire world in spectator mode and take some photos along the way, including going back to compare the original February 1, 2020, unpunched world to what had been built – or rather destroyed. Although it may seem silly, the before and after shots are a staggering testament to what James accomplished through 13 months, aside from creating a wonderful community.
As the pandemic kept people from going out and made working from home more possible than ever, mainly out of necessity, James punched 81 chunks of 16 v 16 Minecraft blocks down to (and in one case, up to) bedrock. He amassed 5,191 followers to his channel (read community), fell in the game 1,679 times, and achieved a maximum viewer count of 690 at one time. He broke 544 tools over the course of 211 streams, accounting for 616 hours and 37 minutes, and he only died 55 times.
In the end, season one was successful if only for the community that was built. At its best, that’s what Twitch is, and James is brilliant at it. During times of strife, art is good, and James has made the Punch-A-Chunk a work of art.