I resisted the allure of Minecraft for years. I was a happy Terraria player, and I thought there wasn’t much to Minecraft, which I played a web demo of the alpha version. For some reason, I happened upon the “Survive and Thrive” series that Paul Soares Jr did and decided to give a more modern Minecraft a try.
At the time, I was keeping the wolf from the door by writing for a content farm. It wasn’t difficult work, but it was soul-crushing, demanding, and killed what creativity I had. Normally, I use prose for keeping me creatively limber. With that safety net gone, writing music was an impossibility.
The content farm work was drying up, as these sorts of freelance gigs do, and with the last proceeds, I purchased Minecraft when the value of the Euro had plummeted and I could afford it. When you’re so focused upon subsistence living, sometimes you need a splurge once and awhile to cheer yourself up.
I think I died my first night in Minecraft. A creeper blew up my dirt hovel, as I recall, and I got lost getting back from my spawn point, losing all the items I’d created. (I didn’t know the trick of immediately making a chest or leaving beacons, much less how to install a minimap mod.)
There comes a point in Minecraft’s game, where all the struggle pays off and you don’t need to fear the creepers that lurk at night. It’s back-breaking work getting there, though, especially on survival mode without cheats. But soon you’ve mined enough resources for better tools and armor. Craters left by creepers can always be filled in. Or, if you’re short on dirt, you can make a nice fishing pond. Your dirt hovel suddenly has paintings and flowers around it, and living in dirt isn’t so bad. That’s a message I desperately needed to hear in the wake of the 2008 “Great Recession.”
This morning Mojang, the maker of Minecraft, announced that it had been acquired by Microsoft. I’ll admit feeling more than a bit of trepidation on the subject. If this is the end of Minecraft, I’m grateful for what it’s given me: a creative outlet when I needed it and a way to connect with my nieces while we’re 2000 miles apart. All things change, and all things end.
“And the game was over and the player woke up from the dream. And the player began a new dream. And the player dreamed again, dreamed better. And the player was the universe. And the player was love.”