In Defence of Minecraft

Or, why it doesn’t need anyone to defend it.

Over the last number of years I’ve read articles and pieces from both sides of the gaming debate. People will both attack and defend games for their perceived good or ill effects on the world.

It’s great to finally come across a game that doesn’t have any of that back and forth. Minecraft doesn’t need to be defended because it has no real detractors. (Of course, some people don’t like it, for any number of reasons, but that’s not the same.) Minecraft has become one of my go to games. Whenever I have a couple of hours to spare I load up my world - Frank’s Tower II, and find myself randomly building cobblestone skyscrapers (complete with a floor with a forest in it) around my player compound.

I debate (with myself mostly) over the use of mods in Minecraft. Of course they add amazing functionality at times - pipes, engines, and all of that. I love the vanilla experience, but have recently given into playing with the technic pack. I only use a couple of the items from it like pipes and quarries - but I still feel like I’m cheating a little bit.

I’ve read a couple of arguments against the use of mods because of the argument that exploring becomes less valuable, that resources become worth less too. And that can be true of course. But I guess to me, it depends on what you want to do with the game - whether its building enormous skyscrapers or venturing into the nether. Mods can make that easier to any extent you want really.

Over the past while, I’ve obviously wondered how to do various things in Minecraft, and the number one spot to find out how to do anything in Minecraft is YouTube. The videos cover everything and are made by a huge spectrum of people from professional gaming video outfits like the Yogscast or random folks making their first videos.

And no matter what you want to do, someone will invariably have it figured out already. Anything from automated chicken farms to Iron Golem Farms. Want to know how hoppers work? Or watch someone build a castle in the sky? Someone has done it and made a YouTube video about it.

And these videos are big, big deals. Some of them have viewer numbers up in the millions. Yes, millions. Yogscast Sjin for instance, has an ongoing series called “Let’s Build Erebor”. The series has 23 episodes, with each averaging over a quarter of a million views per episode(some are way over half a million). But even smaller Let’s Build videos still garner viewers in the thousands.

People - adults and children, are bending the environment and the game to their will in their pursuits. And it’s a beautiful thing.

Minecraft has developed an amazing environment for children to learn and to build and do what they want. It’s like the lego of our youth but virtual and almost limitless. These children are picking up the game and doing great things with it. Almost every day on twitter I see someone extol the virtues of the game because a niece, nephew, son, or daughter has been able to learn how the environment works and do cool things with it.

So now we’re faced with a real opportunity. We’ll have the first real generation of children that have truly grown up with the web, and 21st century modern technology in general. These same children who are learning the rules of the game and then bending them anyway to meet their needs will be the ones doing the same to real software and technology in the future. I believe we have to make sure the tools are there to capture this creativity, and to foster this “let’s build” mentality in the “real” world.

Got something to add, or something to complain about? Contact me on Twitter: @dan_oneill or email me dan.oneill@live.ie

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