Minecraft: So Simple, So Addicting
To the average console gamer, Minecraft is probably perceived as one of those well-known but not fully understood fads that has to be experienced to be appreciated. I must admit, that’s how I always felt about. A multiplayer PC game about building stuff didn’t really hold much value for me. But eventually I came across a group of people online who convinced me to get the Xbox 360 version of the game and join them for some fun.
In a world that has been (perhaps overly) saturated with video games of every genre featuring excitingly varied gameplay, breathtakingly realistic graphics, grand orchestral scores, and stories to rival any Hollywood blockbuster, why is it that an independently developed PC game that is in essence the digital love child of Legos and Lincoln Logs could become so popular?
Sometimes simple is better.
As a publicly professed fan of retro games, simplicity is obviously something that appeals to the part of me that’s still stuck in the 16-bit era. Sonic and Super Mario certainly prove that games don’t have to be complex to be thoroughly enjoyable. Don’t get me wrong; I love a good triple A title as much as the next guy. But it’s been awhile since one has sucked me in and left me to grapple with a crippling addiction as Minecraft has.
There’s just something about that drive to build… build… build.
Even the game’s title reflects the uncomplicated foundation of its play. Mine for materials, craft those materials into usable form, and create. Such a simple concept for so complex a set of possible outcomes. In complete contradiction to its simple front, the immensity of the in-game world is mind blowing. There are mountains, valleys, forests, deserts, islands, lakes, and oceans making up a uniquely arranged map so big that you can easily lose your way wandering about. And it’ll really put a damper on your journey when it starts to rain. Or snow, depending on the climate in that area of your world.
Below the surface of the world is where things really get interesting. There are caves, crevices, underground rivers, and (if you’re unlucky) plumes of lava that you can easily fall into while mining. Even with the monsters turned off, it can be perilous. And rewarding, if you happen across a cache of gold or diamonds.
I suppose what makes it so addicting is the chance to build a new world for yourself, literally from the ground up (or down, if that’s your preference), in a way that is really limited only by your imagination. It appeals to the creative side in all of us, giving us a canvas to turn into a masterpiece that we can lose ourselves in exploring and adding to.
And you don’t have to do it alone. Mojang has stated that Minecraft is an inherently multiplayer experience. The allowance for friends to hop into your world and help in crafting and building gives a strong sense of teamwork and comradery to the game that sticks out in the days when online multiplayer gaming carries a highly competitive and often unsportsmanlike connotation.
The process of creation isn’t always pure fun. Sometimes it can be downright arduous. But, as in life, the road to achievement is often more rewarding than the end result.