Sunday, July 20, 2014

Screenshot of the Day: Minecraft

Welcome to my mountain-castle.

Minecraft is a block-based game about creation, exploration, and survival. It also happens to be the best-selling computer game of all time, clocking in at 16,000,000 sales (World of Warcraft is next highest with 14,000,000). I would guess that Minecraft's massive popularity is probably because of three things: the huge range of things to do, the feeling of ownership and creation, and the easiness of introducing other people to it.

When you start a game of Minecraft, you're dropped into a world with no items and no great indication as to what to do. Do you want to climb to the top of that mountain? Go ahead. Do you want to pick those flowers and throw them at NPC villagers, or do you want to dive into that lake and punch that squid? Sure. Do you want to build a massive skull castle into that cliff face and surround it with a moat of lava? Now you're talking. Now, the reason that Minecraft isn't a completely directionless sandbox is that you do need to survive, battling hunger and zombies alike (at least in survival mode). I built the castle pictured above as a refuge from monsters in the night, and it's kept me mostly safe so far.

Next is the sense of ownership that comes from living and building in a unique world. Minecraft worlds are procedurally generated, so you know that all the jungles, plains, and villages you come across are unique to you. You're the only person who's ever built in your world, and as a result, the creations you make feel more special.

Lastly, Minecraft is a great game to talk to other people about. Most players have lots of stories about adventures they've been on and lots of screenshots of architectural wonders they've created. The creative side of Minecraft makes it one of the most, a-ha, constructive games out there, and spending twenty hours in Minecraft feels a lot more justifiable (to me, at least) than spending twenty hours playing through a bog-standard RPG or other such game. To top it all off, a popular and easy-to-use multiplayer mode means that friends have the chance to play and build together.

It's a pretty great game.

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