A Tale of Personal Experience
I’m here to warn you of video game, a game that will suck down endless hours of your time, a game in which you literally have no objectives, no quests, no goals. Unlike the problem Skyrim posed for me, this isn’t a game that I chose and wanted to play; it was a something I bought on XBox Live for my son. It looked to be nothing more than a Lego-esque building game, aimed at ages 10 and above. WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG?
I’m referring to Minecraft, and if Notch, the developer, could bottle and sell it, I’m telling you it’d be illegal.
As a game, its premise is simple: you place blocks of different types in a randomly-generated world to build anything you can image. The game keeps track of day and night, and at night zombies and spiders come out, so you better have built a shelter during the day.
There. That’s your context. What does all that look like? Like an animated Lego world with a light plot sewn on top:
The game begins innocently enough: you start in a world with nothing but your hands, with the sun sliding ominously across the sky. Your sole mission is to find or build shelter before nightfall. Go. Clock’s ticking.
From there, you learn to harvest wood with your hands, to dig and create a crafting table, to use the crafting table to forge tools from different materials, to eventually create a door and a bed. You learn to build a stone furnace to smelt things with, and you figure out what does and doesn’t work for fuel in the furnace.
You learn about element dependencies: you cannot get an iron ingot without iron ore, and you need at least a stone pickaxe to mine iron ore. Once you get iron ore, you need a furnace and some fuel. Once you have all that, you can smelt the ore into iron ingots. Iron ingots are great for making iron tools, weapons and armor.
Repeat a similar process for gold. And glass. And diamonds. And certain kinds of stone. And don’t even get me started on how you get obsidian (by putting lava in water).
What begins as a simple building game eventually wraps you up so tightly that you will spend an entire night just trying to figure out how much wood you need to harvest so you can build a ladder for the huge hole that you dug in your world that leads all the way to bedrock (the game’s bottom-most block layer).
If you’re like me, you will build stairs into the sky, find the game’s upper graphic engine limit, and build a house made of pure glass well above the cloud layer. And then you will build a diving board off the back of the house into the ocean below, so that you can literally dive from above the clouds into the sea and live to tell about it. And you will do this dive-after-dive loop so obsessively that people will think you’ve gone catatonic.
All the while, your son will be telling you how to make glass (by smelting sand). He will tell you how far a redstone powered rail will propel a minecart on flat land. He’ll even be able to tell you that if you want the cart to move up an incline, you need x more powered rails, because DUH DAD, it’s harder to move someting uphill than on flat ground. DID YOU EVER GO TO SCHOOL?
By the way, your son is 7. You are 43. You hope that one day he will not kill and eat you to feed his intelligence, which is showing its first signs of being considerably more evolved than yours. You hope it’s a benign ruler one day. Overthrow might be nigh impossible.
So yeah. Minecraft.
That’s what this game will do. And it’s marvelous.
MIPRO Consulting main website.