“Minecraft” is this generation’s Super Mario. It’s an international phenomenon. Unless you’ve been living on the moon, you probably already know these things.
It’s on computers, phones, tablets, and game consoles. It’s at your local mall, occupying kiosks with plushies and T-shirts. There’s a semiannual convention (“MineCon”) and an education initiative that’s got it in schools
And what do you actually do in “Minecraft?” Build stuff? Perhaps you’ve seen some of the incredible worlds people have created from within “Minecraft,” like this one of King’s Landing from “Game of Thrones”:
So how does a world go from a flat, grassy meadow to a pixelated re-creation of Westeros’ capital city? The answer to that question is half of the reason people love “Minecraft”: creation. The castles above were built block-by-block.
Think of “Minecraft” as virtual LEGO. LEGO does.
It’s a system for fitting pieces together to create something — sometimes amazing somethings — from nothing. “Minecraft” provides endless building blocks and a blank canvas. It’s up to you to create something incredible, or silly, or referential, or whatever, using the tools it provides. The tools are blessedly user-friendly, as are the systems for employing those tools.
The word “minecraft” is a portmanteau of two verbs: to mine and to craft. Punching a dirt block and retrieving a dirt block to build with is the first verb — the mining. When you start “Minecraft,” it’s the first thing you should do.
Once you’ve retrieved enough blocks, the second thing you’ll need to do is craft: combine the resources you’ve mined to create more complex tools. “Mining” for wood (punching a tree) enables you to create basic tools. Those basic tools enable you to mine more complex resources, which enable you to create more complex items and tools.
It’s this highly satisfying cycle of mining resources and creating from those resources that draws in millions of players around the world. And that’s the most basic level of “Minecraft.”
The other side of “Minecraft,” sadly not encompassed in the game’s title, is exploration. Every time you start a new world in “Minecraft,” it’s unique. That is, levels are randomly generated based on a set of parameters. There are some constants:
- The levels always contain the same materials (dirt, trees, water, etc.)
- There is a day/night cycle
- At night, enemies appear and will attack you
- You can only dig so deep below the world’s surface before hitting bedrock
- The world that spawns always has stuff to discover, whether it’s crazy jungles or mountains or underground caves or whatever