Thoughts on Minecraft

So a certain friend got me hooked on Minecraft earlier this week. Not that I really blame him. I’d heard plenty about how awesome the game was from many many different sources. But up until a chat I had with him over Facebook, Minecraft had always seemed . . . pointless. Playing with virtual Legos online. Whoa boy. Hold me back.

But the way he described it made it sound actually interesting. How did he manage to do that? To make something sound appealing when it had had no appeal whatsoever before? Let’s observe:

Me: is it any fun?

Him: Yes, a lot

Me: TRC really wants to explore it
Why is it fun?
I don’t get it

Him:I really didn’t get it before I got it
Someone used to show me all the time
And I’d be like “wow, a glorified Sims”
Or unglorified

Me: 🙂

Him: Plus it’s open-ended

Me: But isn’t it just like playing with virtual legos?

Him: So you don’t even have an objective
Well, one thing that makes it different, at least in survival mode
Is the necessity to find certain resources

Me: Find em or die?

Him: “Survival mode”
[You can] put it on the easiest setting so there are no monsters

Me: There are monsters?

Him: Oh yes
They come out at night

Me: How do you kill them?

Him: So you better have a house built by then

Me: By throwing bricks?

Him: You have to craft weapons
And that’s the other thing that’s fun

Me: Suddenly this is sounding interesting.
this is all I need . . .

It went on from there, with him explaining about how there’s a crafting system in the game, and unexplored dungeons you have no idea exist, and monster to slay in those dungeons, and treasure to find, and–and–and–

I bought the game.

I’ve now played it a fair bit, and I can definitely say it’s a unique experience. I’ve had a good time playing it, although it’s unlike any game I’ve ever played. For one thing, there are no instructions. You’re plopped in the middle of a Lego world with nothing. There are tons of things you can do, but the game relies on you either discovering those through trial and error or else turning to the message boards and discovering them through the Minecraft community.

I’m not honestly sure how I feel about that. I love the sense of discovering something for myself–but how do you discover something if you don’t even know it exists? You can do magic in Minecraft? Really? How? There’s a “big boss”? Where? In a way, it’s even more frustrating to know the awesome things are there–you just can’t know about them unless you search.

That said, TRC has also been playing, and I’ve discovered something else about him and myself through watching him. He’s not afraid of failure at all. He’s willing to try anything and keep on trying until it works, and he enjoys the process.

Case in point. It’s sometimes easy to get lost in the Minecraft world, so I spent a long time building a huge tower in my world, brick by brick, making sure there was a way for me to get down without dying. Because dying is bad. I was very happy with my efforts, but it took some time.

TRC did it in a fraction of the time. How? He discovered that if you die, you always respawn in the same spot. So he built a tower one brick wide, straight up into the sky, as far as he could go, with him on top of the tower.

Then he jumped off.

Yes, he died. But he also ended up in the same place I did, with the same stuff I did, much more efficiently.

TRC is way more open to experimentation. He’s happy to sit trying different combinations of materials to see if any of them make anything, as opposed to me, who rushes to the internet to just find the dang recipes. TRC loves this game in a way I can’t seem to really catch on to. I enjoy it, and there are things I really like, but after a bit of playing, I start to wonder why I’m playing, and I decide to do something else. TRC? He just loves the experience. Seeing what he can build. Discovering new things. He made a house that’s nice, neat, and orderly. I carved out a bit of a cave and then went spelunking.

For that reason alone–the sheer number of ways to play the game–it’s worth a look. It’s also notable that it’s always expanding and getting refined. There didn’t use to be monsters. That’s new. The game’s evolving over time, and that’s fascinating.

The question is, am I evolving along with it?

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