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Rediscovering the joy of Minecraft

Patrick Davies’ column to the Free Press

Lately, I’ve been revisiting a classic video game from my childhood: Minecraft.

For those who don’t know, Minecraft is the most popular video game of all time. Since its initial release in 2011, it’s sold in excess of 300-million copies both on console and primarily on computers.

During the rise of YouTube in the mid-2010s there were entire channels just dedicated to making videos of people playing the game. To this day videos about Minecraft regularly rake in millions, if not billions, of views every year.

Its success is due in large part because of the rather simple promise of the game’s title. You quite literally just mine and craft items as you explore a procedurally generated world rendered in an iconic blocky art style. Sure you can fight zombies, skeletons and exploding creatures known as creepers but the main joy of the game is found in building.

When I first played in Junior High and High School I remember pride in building my base from cobblestone mined from the earth. My initial designs were blocky and frankly rather ugly. However, as time went on I built sandstone lighthouses, glass penthouses built into the side of a mountain, and even a town bar made of bricks for a village I had found.

Even at my most industrious, however, I was no match for the true builders. Over the last 13 years, players have built a working calculator in-game, a scale model of Denmark, a recreation of Lord of the Ring’s Minas Tirith, the Titanic and thousands of other unique builds limited only by a person’s imagination and the strength of their graphics card.

During my college years, the laptop I’d installed Minecraft on died and I haven’t really played it for almost eight years now. Throughout that time the game has been regularly updated with new blocks, tools and environments to explore.

So when a group of my friends started playing Minecraft on New Year’s Day and created a shared world we could all build in, I decided to hop back into the game. After all, I’d never played the game with other people before so I thought it could be fun.

Rediscovering the game has been a delight. While a lot has changed since “back in my day” the core mechanics have remained the same. I found myself picking it up again pretty easily as I explored the world my friends had built.

Now while it’s changing all the time I’ve been awestruck and inspired by some of the builds they’ve created. Working railways that crisscross the land. Epic stone bridges sweeping over deep canyons. A bustling township populated with villagers. Strange floating towers that pour lava into the earth.

Perhaps the most enjoyable part is chatting with them as I plan out my builds. My efforts are frankly quite humble in comparison but then again I have been out of the game for a while. Once I get back into the swing of things, who knows what I might create?

Patrick Davies

About the Author: Patrick Davies

An avid lover of theatre, media, and the arts in all its forms, I've enjoyed building my professional reputation in 100 Mile House.
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