A lot of times video games are about bringing imaginations alive and achieving what people can only dream of but can only realize with technology. Some might judge others for wasting hours or even days playing this game, but, without a doubt, it was one of the few popular kid-friendly titles that appealed to a wide variety of audiences. Block by block, this game turned seemingly meaningless tasks into magnificent work and even facilitated countless adventures. Additionally, the passion from developers and the community also resulted in the game getting revolutionary upgrades and various intense mods. If you don’t realize by now—yes, I am talking about “Minecraft”.
For those of you that have been living in a cave, “Minecraft” is what we now call an independent sandbox game that contains minimal story and maximal free exploration. Players enter a world that features various environments made of a collection of blocks and creatures, from which they must mine the necessary materials to craft essential tools and supplies to survive. Through gathering, forging, crafting, farming, enchanting, and other activities, players can eventually access more powerful capabilities and express their imaginations. While it started out with fairly rudimentary elements like dirt, stone, wood, water, and other basic blocks, Mojang, the developer behind “Minecraft”, eventually added more exciting content throughout their patches like enchantments, potions, horses, different dimensions, boss fights, and more.
Besides some regimented tasks that players need to do to stay alive, “Minecraft” is fairly free form in terms how players should find fun in it. With local and online multiplayer support, people who have free time easily found themselves immersed in this simulation. Massive castles and gigantic farms are only the beginning. People in this game have created communities, worlds, and even replicas of real life or fantasy locations. I was skeptical, but then I saw that some players were able to recreate Azeroth, the land from “World of Warcraft”. What “Minecraft” offers is what modern game players have long craved for but couldn’t find in many other games—the ability to express their imaginations. It is the flexibility and adaptability of the game, along with dedication and hard work of a loyal fan base that enables people with enough time and imaginations to achieve the impossible.
Do you know that Canvas (the education suite we Stevens students switched to recently) has “Minecraft” integration support? Students are able to complete assignments and earn grades by completing in-game actions. (I doubt any professors will use it but… that’s cool!) Since “Minecraft” is the only game to (so far) have its own integration support on Canvas, it is safe to say that this massive sandbox game has a unique distinction for its educational and entertainment values. However, with its massive popularity, “Minecraft” is leading a whole new trend in video game industry in terms of open world sandbox adventure games. Some prominent examples are “Terraria”, a 2D open world adventure game with emphasis on exploration and adventure, and “Edge of Space”, which is essentially a “Terraria” and “Minecraft”-inspired game in space.
What additionally distinguishes “Minecraft” as an awesome game is its robust community support and exciting game modes. Hardcore mode was made for those who seek thrill and challenge, in which one death means you lose your save file. Creative mode serves as the ultimate creation simulation in which players get unlimited blocks of all kinds and have limitless abilities to build and alter the world.
In addition to official game modes offered by developers, mods that alter the game to different degrees are also present. Want better graphics or skins? There’s a mod for that! Want more content or unofficial NPCs? Yup, there’s mod for that. There are even Total Conversion mods for the ambitious individuals. The one that came into my head is Feed the Beast, a massive collection of famous modpacks that were made to enhance game play and introduce various intricacies that are sometimes beyond mortal comprehension.
Ultimately, Minecraft is like LEGO, but with unlimited blocks and is available for only one payment of $30. Additionally, it does not hurt your feet when stepped on at night, and also contains lava, a variety of animals, dragons, and other awesome features. Compared to numerous AAA titles in recent history that were often seen as more “mainstream,” “Minecraft” serves a unique niche as the LEGO of the internet that started a massive social phenomenon around it.
By simply making, building, moving, and destroying blocks, we can express our creativity and the game can be played in so many ways. As we jokingly say, the sky is the limit.