Don’t Use “Guest” WiFi Hotspots for Local Multiplayer Minecraft

After having heard of (but not paid much attention to) the game “Minecraft”, I got it for 10-year-old Anthony and me to play together, and found it to be delightful fun. The gameplay is completely unstructured (you explore, mine for resources, and build stuff), though how things work is a bit opaque at first until you figure out how to build stuff. Anthony did so quickly, so he kindly explained it to me.

However, I ran into trouble setting up the WiFi link to play together, and felt like an idiot once I realized what the problem was. I thought I'd share it here for the search engines, in case others had problems setting up multiplayer Minecraft over local WiFi.

The standard instructions are simple:

  1. Ensure both devices are on the same WiFi hotspot.
  2. On one device, open the world you want to play; ensure that the “local server multiplayer” option is enabled. Start playing.
  3. On the other device(s), press the [PLAY] button to bring up the list of worlds.
  4. See the WiFi world shared by the first device, select it, and go build things together.

For the life of me I could not get this to work... no shared world appeared in the last step... until I realized that “guest” WiFi networks (such as created by an Apple Time Capsule or Time Machine, and probably many other home WiFi routers) explicitly isolate each client from all others, so even if both devices are connected to the same hotspot, they can not talk to each other.

I'm sure it's the same for most public WiFi hotspots.

So don't use “guest” or public WiFi hotspots for local Minecraft multiplayer (or any local multiplayer game, for that matter), and you'll not waste an hour of your life pulling your hair out.

Oh, it's getting dark and I hear a zombie coming, so I gotta go...

All 2 comments so far, oldest first...

My nephews play Minecraft. They got it for me for my birthday. It’s a fun game to play with them.

Hope you’re well, Jeff. Take care.


— comment by Scott W on August 12th, 2013 at 10:33pm JST (10 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

Client isolation is actually a bit of a new thing, and I’m surprised more venders aren’t adopting it and setting it as a default option for public or guest networks. Also remember, ping and mtr are your best friends. 🙂

I created an ad-hoc network with my Mac, and from it could ping both mobile devices, but couldn’t get the multiplayer stuff to work, so I’m wondering whether it’s possible for the computer to see them both, but for them not to see each other. Odd. —Jeffrey

— comment by Rubin Starset on August 13th, 2013 at 5:01am JST (10 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink
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