After a NaNoWriMo binge in last year, I joined my friends in playing Minecraft. They had been playing for the better part of that month, whilst I feverishly worked on my Eberron fan-novel, The Brienne Chronicles. Through a mix of peer pressure, addictive gameplay, and general cheapness of the software I ended up playing the game for a week straight before returning to the real world. The review that follows was posted on November 30th, 2010.
How I Caved and Learned to Love Minecraft
I never intended to spend my weekend spelunking in virtual caves on my friend’s Minecraft server. In fact, I went out of my way to avoid playing Minecraft altogether. It is so terribly trendy. I can’t stand trendiness, especially geeky trendiness. Unfortunately, I yielded to the siren’s song of mining and crafting. I am now on my roomie’s server, exploring lava-filled caves, hiding from the undead, and looting the world for its natural treasures.
I have this character flaw when it comes to new Tech. I wait. Mostly I wait because I tell myself I won’t cop to the trends. I tell myself, “I’ll see what happens.” I tell myself, “It’s just fad.” But then something draws me in. Maybe it’s pragmatism like with Facebook, allowing me to keep up with people I rarely speak to in person. Maybe it’s because I think it’s an excellent way to promote my own material, like when I joined Twitter to advertise my Heroes webcomic. In any case, I eventually become an earlier-than-you adopter.
It was, however, probably inevitable I’d end up trying the game. After all, Penny Arcade covered it in their webcomic! Gabe goes from “punching trees” to a mighty king of his own tower in a matter of days. After that a few weeks passed, a couple of twitter users I follow began posting about their experiences playing Minecraft. They described their projects in the game, posting pictures of their progress. It seemed interesting, but I considered it a fad. A few more days pass, my roomie yutaka returned from work exclaiming, “We’re playing Minecraft!”
He showed me some videos about the game he’d been watching that day. Since he’s an IT guy, they’re mostly about the engineering projects that can be done in the game, namely awesome mine cart roller coasters. He also showed me a video about one player’s adventures. He downloaded and set up a server pretty much that night. Yet, still I restrained the urge to buy a copy (only about $13 USD*) to play with him. I decided to bide my time see what he was doing with it. Eventually he convinced my other roomie to play. My other roomie immediately began to build sprawling, floating castles! (I’ll admit it. That is cool.) I still didn’t join, instead focusing on my writing and other stuff.
Well, I must admit defeat. I “caved” and bought a copy to play with my friends, joining the ranks of Minecraft early adopters. I also have to say, it is not just a simple fab. Minecraft is like the beginnings of the Matrix. A simple environment with infinite possibilities. You can create, build, and rebuild as you see fit. As my other roomie described it, “It’s like Legos.” If building isn’t your cup of tea, there is always exploration and resource gathering, which are just as addicting. I love loot, especially when I have to go through hell and high water to get it. I’m an explorer. So now, on yutaka’s server, I own an entire valley! If you’re wondering how I spent my weekend, I’ve spent it in the Internet’s Largest Dungeon.
Postscript: Minecraft 2011
I haven’t gotten to play much Minecraft since I moved out of my friend’s house. My laptop is way too slow to play single player effectively, so I rely on Yutaka’s SMP server. Unfortunately with the introduction of Beta, the server has been down for maintenance until CraftBukkit has a stable release.
Yesterday, Yutaka sent me this picture of his game, inspiring me to post my review.
*Minecraft Beta currently costs about $20 USD.