I’ve been playing a lot of minecraft since the opening of AKiss4Luck’s Westmarch server on Easter Sunday. When people ask me what I like about minecraft I say, I played legos as a child, and most people go away satisfied. But I’m beginning to run into people who also played legos as a child and don’t get the appeal of minecraft. It got me thinking, why do I like playing minecraft?
First off there is the exploration bit.
Each world is unique and different and for someone like me who like to open maps in games and explore, it’s very satisfying. There’s no way to know what’s over that ridge, it might be an awesome waterfall or a mysterious stone shape or a deep dark hole into who knows where.
Secondly there’s the building.
This is the part most people think of when you talk about minecraft. Although there are mods that make it player vs player or create quests you can complete, at the heart of what I love about minecraft is the building. As I’ve said before I’m not one of those epic builders who recreate masterpieces and huge works. I like to work with the environment. I see a mountain side and imagine a spindly tower coming out one side. I carve windows into walls and turn them into cities. I once created a giant library underground by excavating out all that was not ordinary stone and then turning it into rooms (I will do this again it was epic).
Thirdly there’s the building.
Building in minecraft (at least the way I do) is half conscious. I’m not trying to recreate something that I’ve planned out so I don’t have to do the counting and reworking. Instead I get rid of the stone and dirt I don’t like and then step back and see if it looks “right” – if not I continue. If I mis-click and take out an extra block, I work with it. Because of this, when I’m building I often listen to tv shows, podcasts, and audio books. Right now I’m listening to Perdido Street Station by China Miéville as I’m working on the castle/orchid/mines of my current lands (still unnamed). Previously I’ve watched all of the original 70s version of Dark Shadows and hours of youtube videos. In Takenoko, I watched a lot of One Piece while building my greenhouse gardens. It’s best to pick something that is more audio than visual.
Lastly, the Mobs
I played minecraft for about a year in it’s peaceful setting (that means no exploding creepers or skeleton archers). But there’s something about playing with mobs on, when there’s a chance you could die, that appeals and I think it’s one of minecraft’s strongest features. It makes you feel accomplished when you finish the underground ravine city and can say you only died twice. When you run back into your now darkened theater facing off skeletons while frantically putting down torches and you don’t die (woot!). Most of the time I’m working in well lit places where the mobs rarely go. But there’s that chance of turning a corner and “boom,” that bit of adrenaline when you shriek and the mouse goes flying, the quiet terror of rushing forward and placing a torch into the darkened room hoping you don’t see the far corner filled with skeletons who will shoot and kill you before you can escape back to safety, that makes the building worth it.