Minecraft: Breaking Blocks to Build Worlds

            You would have to have been living under a rock, as a hermit in the deep dark woods, or shipwrecked far away on a deserted island to not know what Minecraft is. Even if you are much, much older than I am (which is a lot of you; I’m pretty young… just don’t ask my wife, she won’t tell you the truth), you should’ve at least heard your grandkids talking about this game. For those of you not “hip” with the youngsters though, let me fill you in. There are so many great and innovative games out there these days, it can be quite difficult to make any single choice. Of all the different genres of games, what sets Minecraft apart is its simplicity in design and its complexity in choices. That’s just at the base of things you are missing out on if you haven’t played this game yet.

            So, the basic question; what is Minecraft? Well, Minecraft is an entirely block based open world environment that you play in. There are three primary ways to play; survival mode, creative mode, and mini games. In survival, you start out with nothing more than the shirt on your back. Your mission is simple; survive. You have to “mine” for materials like wood and stone to “craft” tools and other supplies to upgrade yourself from surviving to striving. Look out though, as there are a lot of different monsters that spawn mostly at night or in caves called “mobs”.  It takes time, but with time and grinding on your new mining skills, you’ll earn experience that you can use to upgrade your tools with enchantments, and also to repair tools. You can go on ANY incredible adventure in the game you want to. Tour a woodland mansion, raid tons of villages, loot pyramids, go to the nether (a sort of hell like underworld), or explore underwater guardian temples. Don’t worry, there is an end to the game, quite literally. To finish the game, you must find the “End Portal,” travel to the End, and destroy all the Ender Crystals so you can slay the Ender Dragon. Sounds simple enough right? Okay, you go ahead, have fun with that.

Mini Games

That’s survival mode in a nutshell, and the creative and mini games are a lot simpler to explain. To start with, mini games are server-based games that you can play with friends online or locally (you can play survival and creative multiplayer too, but these are specifically designed worlds that you play with certain rules). There are a lot of different mini games available on the PC Java version, but for the consoles, there are just three primarily. The mini games are a fun way to break up the monotony of the featured versions of the game. Don’t get me wrong, Minecraft survival and creative modes are great, but sometimes you just need to take a break from hours of cave mining or lumber chopping when you’re working on those big projects. Creative is probably my favorite game type of all though.

In creative mode, you can, well create! Unlike survival mode, where you HAVE to mine and/or craft the blocks you need or want, you are given full access to every single block in Minecraft. That access has no limits either as you have infinite blocks. The same can be said about the mode in general; the only limits to your building is your own imagination. You can make ANYTHING you can possibly dream up. I‘ve seen a mockup of the Millennium Falcon, The Hobbit, even Hogwarts Castle! They even have build competitions online for doing builds within a certain block count space, a certain time frame, and sometimes with only certain blocks. There are so many different things you can do with this game, which is what makes it so complex even though it is of a simple design. Check out a couple examples of builds below.

So, how popular do you think Minecraft is? Well, this game was created and launched in 2009 for the PC, and by 2012 they launched the Minecraft Xbox 360 edition. Within the first 5 days on the Xbox 360, over 1 million copies were sold. By 2016, there was over 100 million in sales across all platforms, and over 144 million paid account registered on the game. Even back in 2015, Minecraft was entered into the Guinness book of World records for hosting the largest convention for a single videogame at the London Excel Centre. Minecraft continues to gain popularity with people young and old. Nowadays, you can’t turn a corner in any store without seeing some type of Minecraft merchandise, the biggest sellers being the Lego Minecraft builds. I’m surprised General mills hasn’t made a Minecraft cereal yet(Disclaimer: Let it be known that here on this day, I am held solely responsible for you eating “dirt” and “stone” oats, with marshmallow Ores of diamonds, emeralds, redstone, and lapis lazuli, and it’s topped off with a little creeper or zombie collectibles in the box… You’re welcome internet)!

            If you haven’t picked up what I’m laying down yet, Minecraft is awesome! There are so many things you can do, especially with the limitless creative mode. This game is fun for all ages (Seriously, I’m pretty sure my boys started playing when they were about 3-4 years old), so there’s no excuse not to check it out. For the younger generations, they even have an Education Edition of Minecraft specifically to engage children with mathematics, problem solving, and design scheming. I can’t begin to describe the different number of things you can do with this game! Well, I kind of just did, but I mean more so unto what I’ve already described. Let me put it this way: Minecraft is like those books we used to read back in the day where you could choose your own adventure. Except with Minecraft, you don’t have to bookmark the previous page you were own, just in case you chose wrong and died!

            So, there is your rundown of one of the greatest videogames on Earth. A game that has gained so much popularity, it will most likely surpass Tetris as the best-selling game of all time. Not bad for being only 10 years old. A game so adaptable there have been countless “mods” created to play on the PC, not to mention all the different player skins and texture packs you can purchase. All YOU have to do is Choose; Single or Multiplayer? Survival or Creative? PC or Console? Whatever your choice is, hurry up and go get a copy today! Then you’ll see what the block craze is all about. If you want to read more about the history of Minecraft, check the links in the references below. If you are planning on starting up a world of Minecraft on your own, leave me a comment and check out the next blog later this week where I will discuss some of the best You Tube Minecraft channels to follow. Until then, stay strange everyone!

References cited:

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