I know what you’re thinking. Surely this is just a shady attempt to get more hits.
Correction – this is a blatant attempt to get more hits.
The joke’s really on me though, considering the well-worn territory that Minecraft exists in. It’s a multi-billion dollar entity. Pixelated axes adorn the kiosks of every mall in the world and there are Youtubers that make their money exclusively on Minecraft videos, a full five years after its initial release. Which begs the question – what do I say about arguably the biggest video game in the world?
The answer is deceptively simple, similar to the one that find upon starting the game for the first time – it’s anything you want it to be. That’s the crux of the game’s popularity, its ability to be so many different things to different people. Personally, as someone that’s only ever futzed around the scaled-down Xbox 360 version, I always treated it as a place for my brain to sort of leak out any silly ideas I had, most never intended to be seen by another human. Without ever engaging in the community aspects or even the “game” portions, it was like a box full of half-assembled Lego sets that never quite fit with one another. Sometimes I’d be in the mood to create a giant building made of Lapiz blocks that had various shady looking hidden rooms or a pixel-by-pixel recreation of 8-bit Mega Man to loom over an empty desert. Other times, I’d get more adventurous, and see if I could create a “game within the game”, a series of light puzzles that some unknown person wandering into my world would have to solve, be it following signs to discover clues or hitting a switch to start a roller coaster leading to a ladder inside of a hollow tree.
Now that I think about it, I was just trying to make Myst.
Eventually I got fed up and decided that the world needed a bit more lava in it, to the point that I was practically taunting the Minecraft Gods in the sky with the word LAVA written into the Earth with said lava. Even though I didn’t get very far in my pursuit, I still knew that it was possible. Hell, someone actually went and did it, and it’s only one of the innumerable things that people have created (or re-created, as it were).
When I think of Minecraft, after getting over the initial “god why didn’t I think of that”, I tend to see it as something that not only the industry needed, but we as consumers as well. It taps into a creative vein that we all have to some extent from consuming so much art and media in our lifetimes, even if it’s something as simple as a pyramid of blocks or a message to a loved one on a signpost. I have to wonder how different my life would have been if I had something similar to it when I was a kid; if my internal desire to create and tell stories would have manifested itself much sooner.
I’d like to think that in my lifetime we’ll discover a great artist or thinker that grew up mining for ore as a child just so he could fend off Creepers and build a modest house. I want to be around to see what that person creates next.