Why I Play Minecraft (from a former non-gamer)
A few weeks ago, I wouldn’t have considered myself a gamer by any means. I don’t really see the point of first-person shooters, but maybe that’s because for the first few times I played Halo I would either get stuck in corners not knowing which way was up, or fall off the edge of buildings to my death–that is, while I wasn’t getting beaten down or shot up by the other players. I’ll obligingly play Mario Kart or other non-shooting video games when others want to play, but I’m never clamoring to play. And despite being in mobile development, where gaming is incredibly hot and lucrative, I’ve never wanted to work on mobile games. So it’s with much confusion and delight that I discovered the world of Minecraft.
For those who are not familiar, Minecraft is a survival/building sandbox game. The world is composed of blocks of different materials (sand, dirt, stone, water, sheep–and if you’re lucky, you can also find diamond and gold). You can “craft” tools, doors, paintings and more by using these resources, and build mines, mansions, sheep cannons…almost anything you can imagine.
I’m not much of a game expert, so I’m not sure how unique these characteristics are for games, but they are worth noting for others new to the gaming world. Unlike games where you level up and start in a completely new level/world, the state of the world you live in is completely saved, so that sweet tower you built or your 8-bit CPU will be right there next time you connect to play. For me, the best part of Minecraft is being able to play collaboratively in the same world as my husband. We set up a server and are building our own increasingly elaborate house and mines. Sometimes I feel like exploring and finding more resources, and I go down my staircase into a seemingly endless cavern where I can mine for coal, obsidian, iron or diamond. Other times I’m in the mood to tackle a more domestic project and spend some time improving the fireplace in our house (a glorifed cave in the side of a cliff), or converting the entryway to be made of glass. There is really something for everyone–just search for Minecraft on youtube and you’ll see some of the incredible and no-doubt incredibly time-consuming creations made by Minecraft players.
As a warning/recommendation for those considering playing Minecraft, it’s incredibly addictive, and we played until 5am the first night after we received activation codes for Christmas (though to be fair, we were on the East Coast, so it was really more like 2am in California…). And at the risk of sounding like someone who holes up in a room and eats old pizza and drinks mountain dew for days while playing online games, our world in Minecraft feels very real. After the first week of playing Minecraft, I went outside and saw some fog in the distance, and the first thought in my mind was, huh my render distance must be set to short (you can adjust how far you want to be able to see to speed up the rendering). A few days later, I heard a funny car noise and thought immediately of skeletons shooting arrows at me.
For those who are heavily immersed in the gaming world, I would whole-heartedly recommend trying out Minecraft. And for those who have never really gotten into games, you may be surprised at how much you like Minecraft. Unless you want to die on the first night, I also recommend watching one of the many “first day in Minecraft” videos to get started!
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