Minecraft: Somehow this computer game is addicting

To start with, I must admit: I am currently not a huge video game fanatic. I play video games at friends’ houses sometimes, and that’s about it. I mean, sure, video games are entertaining and fun, but I’d rather spend my free time doing other more productive things (“liking” things on Facebook is productive, right…?) It was not always this way; in the past, I was one to really get with PlayStation 2 platform games. By not playing video games, have I been missing out on an essential part of life? Maybe Minecraft, a computer game that has recently become popular at Ames High, would catapult me back in to the world of virtual fun. What is Minecraft, you may ask? According to its website, Minecraft is “a game about placing blocks to build anything you can imagine.” You are a character in an enormous generated world of square blocks. The graphics are simple, and there are no missions or objectives at all in the game. All you do is build stuff. Sound like a fun game? Probably not… On paper, it looks like the most boring game ever. As Minecraft addict senior Kevin Stasko, put it, “it’s an awful game.” Somehow though, there is something incredibly addicting about the game, and I wanted to check out what it was. The game costs 10 euros. (No need to start preparing a ship for a Transatlantic voyage, though, it will convert to 14 US dollars.) I purchased it on a Friday night and then prepared for my social life to be destroyed that evening. The game started up, and I found myself alone in an enormous mountainous world made of blocks, right next to a lake (made out of “blocks” of water). There was snow on the ground. Though the graphics were terrible, there was an indescribable beauty to it; everything looked so perfect, in a simple sort of way. All I could see was my hand right in front of me, so I started hitting things by clicking on them. After hitting trees and sand a bunch of times, I was able to collect some building materials and construct a small building to hide in before night came, and the monsters came out. (Minecraft days are 20 minutes long). Despite protecting me from creatures of the night, my small wood-plank and sandstone hut pales in comparison to what true Minecraft masters have created in the game. There are many examples of this fascinating architecture online that a quick Google search will find. Creations range from cities to reconstructions of historical buildings, such as the Taj Mahal and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater. All of these are made up of only simple blocks of various materials (wood, dirt, stone, metal, etc). And don’t think Minecraft is easy! These magnificent works of Minecrafting take time; Stasko said he spent four hours collecting dirt blocks in order to construct a humongous statue of Atlas holding up a golden house, and it “still wasn’t enough.” “I like the challenge of not having a challenge,” Stasko said. Players can either play single player offline by themselves, or online with friends on multiplayer servers. One of the fun things Stasko said, is “comparing the things you make with your friends.” Max Peterson, a former Ames High student, runs a server that his friends play on. He says he himself is not addicted to the game. The same cannot be said for others playing on Peterson’s server, however. “I have the server logs and let me tell you they play A LOT. Last night some of them were [on the server] till 3:00 AM. I’ve seen 5:00 AM before.” Though perhaps not an addiction, Peterson still enjoys his “Minecrafting”. “It’s really cool to be able to create amazing looking structures in a game-scenario world. There just isn’t a game out there like it.” So where is Minecraft heading in the future? Perhaps it will add objective-based gameplay (instead of its current unstructured build-whatever-you-want mentality.) But the simplicity of the game is also what makes it what it is Junior Michael Dixon said its “so addictive because you have complete control and there are no limits.” Dixon is what some would call a veteran Minecraft player. He has had the game longer than many of the recent immigrants to Minecraft-land. (Fun fact: Dixon had the game before lava hurt you!) He has a message to the student population. “I think everyone should play it,” Dixon said, “[And] it’s only going to get bigger.”