So just what is Minecraft?

I’m taking a course for my final semester at SMU called Digital Media in Asia, and was quite excited that my professor, Michael Netzley, is actually making us play Minecraft! To my surprise, though, I was the only one in class who played Minecraft, so I decided to write a crash course explaining one of the greatest games I’ve ever come across!

Minecraft in a sentence

Minecraft is an incredible game that is unlike any other. In a sentence, it’s a first person open world sandbox game.

  • As a first person game, you are controlling a character in a 3D world.
  • As an open world game, rather than being confined to some virtual border or a path that the game forces you to follow, a world in Minecraft has no boundaries and no path to follow. There are no rules or objectives, and you can do whatever you want with it.
  • As a sandbox game, the world in Minecraft can be completely modified by the player.

In otherwords, Minecraft is like a virtual box of LEGOs, allowing you to build anything you want.

Game modes in Minecraft

There are two common modes to play Minecraft:

  1. Creative: Literally no rules and limits. You can use as much materials of any type as you want. Your character can’t die, it isn’t affected by gravity and can fly. People usually use this mode when all they want to do is build stuff.
  2. Survival: You start the game with absolutely nothing, but the whole world is your resource. You start by gathering basic resources like wood, stone and coal, and craft weapons, tools, armour and more using recipes on a crafting table. What are the weapons for? Well, as time passes, day will turn to night, and monsters will spawn anywhere that’s dark, so you’ll need to defend yourself, because you can die. In survival mode, you get to explore caves and dungeons for rare materials that let you craft even more things or build even more extravagant creations. Your character gets hungry with time, so making food will be important too.

Why would anyone play Minecraft??

One thing I get from friends a lot is that they don’t really understand the point of a game whose objective isn’t to score the highest points or fight the biggest bosses. Well, Minecraft players generally play for one (or usually more) of the following reasons:

1. Build Buildings

These guys love to build buildings, amazing structures and entire worlds. They just love to make pretty stuff. Survival adds a thrill and excitement to just plain building, by adding a challenge to find the materials they need, and attempting to build incredible builds while staying alive.

2. Build Machines

There is a category of materials in Minecraft known as redstone. They’re like electrical wires, switches, lights and pistons that allow you to build actual machines in the game. People have built incredible machines in Minecraft, some even helping them to gather resources they need faster.

3. Beat the boss

There’s actually a “boss” in the game that is quite challenging to get to and to beat. Most Minecraft players just see the boss as a “rite of passage”, though, because once you pass that stage, you would have gathered almost every type of material in the game. Once you’ve beaten the boss, though, you just go back to doing whatever else you were doing in the game.

4. Play with friends

There’s a multiplayer mode where you get to play on servers with friends. Unlike games like World of Warcraft or World of Tanks, these servers aren’t owned by Minecraft but by players. I personally turned a spare computer into a private Minecraft server to play with friends. We go on adventures together exploring caves, fighting monsters, then build some really cool buildings.

5. Play against friends

Thanks to redstone, there are actually tons of player-vs-player games you can download and play with friends, from unique modes such as survival (hunter games style) and invader-defence to Minecraft versions of popular games like DOTA or Team Fortress 2.

Social element of Minecraft

Minecraft in a multiplayer environment is like a virtual world with actual resources that could technically run out. That brings about some very unique social experiences when playing together.

“The Working Draft” –  A social experiment

One popular Youtuber, Joe Hills, decided to conduct an artistic experiment to test it out. He gathered a bunch of people from all sorts of backgrounds, not all Minecraft players, and put them together on a server he called “The Working Draft”. His goal is to see how people work together and form their own rules and governments. It’s quite a facinating experiement that has been running for a few months now. You can check out the whole series here.

And that’s why I play Minecraft

I’ve always loved LEGO, and the idea that I could build my own world with my friends, having adventures together trying to gather resources and fighting off monsters while doing that really appealed to me. That’s why I started playing Minecraft, and now have a tiny nettop computer powered 24 hours in my bedroom running my own private Minecraft server.

If you play Minecraft and feel that I’ve made any mistake in this post or left something important out, be sure to let me know! And share your experience on why you play Minecraft!