So—as an artist and a writer, it’s important to know how to manage your time properly, right? Am I right???
And, knowing that I have half a dozen projects in the works, I probably spent this weekend working on new paintings or editing one of the books I’m trying to complete or finalizing the rules for the R.P.G. I’m creating or reading a new novel or comic for my next review (which is what most folks REALLY like from me—sorry they take so long to finish! I’m a slow reader!!!) or doing something equally productive and useful—right? Surely, I didn’t just fritter away my weekend… (Yeah, yeah, I know, “Don’t call me ‘Shirley.'”)
Nope. I played Minecraft… For HOURS!
The weird thing is that I never really played the game much before. Maybe a few times a couple of years ago (mostly on Xbox 360), but the younger daughter and I have been watching a few well known YooToob personalities who have been playing Minecraft lately, and it looked like fun (again.)
As it turns out, the game IS fun!
But WHY is it so entertaining? What is it about the game that makes it so enjoyable? I’ve thought about it for quite some time, and I’ve come to a tentative conclusion, (partially to explain to my wife why I’ve had my nose buried in a laptop screen for two full days!)
When I was a kid, my favorite toys (besides books and records, which I’ve always loved) were the ones where you MADE stuff: Legos and Lite Brite and Robotix and Capsela and Spirograph and Micronauts and even Lincoln Logs and Tyco race tracks (you could combine several different sets and make these weird, looping, tracks…) I liked using the toys to CREATE…
And in Minecraft, you can BUILD to your heart’s content!
Sure, there’s adventuring, and taming animals, and growing crops, and robbing nearby villages, and fighting monsters, and blah, blah, blah—but those aren’t the parts of the game I like. I go mining, but only to quarry enough cobblestone (one of the most common materials in the game) to make my weird, castle-like structures. I don’t care about conquest or getting rich or defeating the big monsters, I enjoy the building!
I started by making just enough of a hut to survive through the night, and then I started expanding—adding rooms, building UP, making staircases and oddly shaped balustrades and connecting various structures with bridges. Then—and this is where I really started to have fun—I started adding torches and trying to create creepy lighting effects.
For those who have never played the game, Minecraft has an accelerated TIME frame (one full day/night cycle lasts about 20 minutes!) During the day, your character is relatively safe and can move around the landscape harvesting resources, interacting with animals and villages, and building in peace. At NIGHT, however, the MONSTERS come out.
At first, this is frustrating because if you haven’t crafted any weapons, or a house (or some kind of shelter), then the monsters WILL KILL YOU! Makes it hard to build stuff if you’re dead. However, once you’ve got a nice, safe house and some protective items (armor, weapons, a shield, etc.), walking around at night isn’t so scary—AND it’s when all the torches and campfires and landscape lighting that I’ve built look the coolest…
Here are just a couple photos of what I’ve built, so far. (I don’t know how to take a screenshot, yet, so I took these images of my laptop screen with my phone. Sorry about the glare from the window behind me!)
[Ha! I just realized you can see my Greatest American Hero t-shirt in these photos!]
I don’t know how to do anything FANCY, yet, but I’m having fun building my own, personal amusement park. I love the look of the torches glowing on the ground… And there’s even a moon that comes up and glows behind the buildings sometimes… It all looks very cool (to me) and especially odd with all the wild animals wandering around the grounds!
I THINK I can even learn (eventually) how to tint glass different colors in the game, then I can create a GIANT Lite Brite building and make some truly crazy designs… (I’ll do an update when I get something cool, like that, built.)
It’s maybe not REALLY art, to some folks, but it LOOKS like art to me! (It’s VIRTUALLY art, right? And in a digital world, virtual art becomes JUST ART! Right?) I think, and other folks will undoubtedly know if this is possible, I can send invites to folks to visit my Minecraft “world,” once it’s fancy enough for me to want to share it, and they can come run around in my amusement park—I could even call it a VIRTUAL GALLERY SPACE—and see all the stuff I’ve made…eventually…if I can figure out how to do it…once I’m ready…
And THAT’S why I spent the last two days playing Minecraft. It was fun, and I got to create a little virtual world! My creations aren’t as fancy as some of the Minecraft worlds I’ve seen—but I’m just getting started. Learning, experimenting, seeing what I can do with this toy, and so far, it looks like I’ll be able to do a LOT!
—Richard F. Yates (Holy Fool—and Old-School Gamer!)
SUPPORT INDEPENDENT FOLKS WHO ARE JUST MAKING STUFF BECAUSE THEY LOVE IT!!!