Complex Simplicity: Ten Years of Minecraft
Minecraft is one of those games that I constantly come back to. I started playing it around 2009 when it was still possible to play it on an internet browser. At that point in my life I only had a sub-par laptop handed down to me from my father that I used for school and a console at home. Naturally I wanted to play a game when I was stuck on campus in-between classes so Minecraft was the obvious choice.
At its core, Minecraft is a simple survival game. When you start you are thrown into a blocky world and are told to “punch a tree to get wood” and then craft that wood into a bench utilizing a simple menu to then make more items to help survive the fast approaching night (night is when monsters come out to attack you, so finding shelter is usually a priority). With these simple mechanics you quickly learn that you can punch much more than trees, the dirt blocks underneath you can become a hobbit hole to get through the night, and soon enough tools you crafted from wood can set you on a path to get even more materials such as stone to build from.
The games mechanics not only revolve around collecting and building, but also light. In order to truly feel at home, creating a light source is paramount. Light sources such as torches keep the monsters at bay, help you continue to build at night, and let you explore further and further deep underground to find what treasures Minecraft has to offer. Torches can also be a way finder for those that want to explore to find their way home after a long journey trying to find that next perfect spot to build, or the village that must be beyond the next mountain.
In Minecraft, surviving is the easy part, what to do after that is completely up to the player. Do you want to impress your friends with your creativity when it comes to building? Adventure further into the unknown to become better equipped for dealing with even bigger foes? Create a farm with animals to tend to? Maybe even build a computer with the games virtual electricity simulator redstone? The possibilities are endless.
In some ways, Minecraft is more than a game. It can be a learning tool. Minecraft is one of the only games that you can modify yourself by learning to code in JAVA. You can even host your own multiplayer server on your home computer. You can turn a simple survival game into a multiplayer shooter, an adventure game, or even simulate other games like Stardew Valley or Zelda.
Minecraft is over 10 years old, and the $20-30 investment I put in to purchase myself a copy is still paying off with almost yearly updates to the game that change the games content and features. There is so much more to Minecraft than just hitting trees and placing blocks, it is the quintessential sandbox game that you can experiment with in both the real world and virtual world.