Men build things in Minecraft, then they die. Well, not just men. But you get the point. Plus, every good essay requires a Boondock Saints reference.
There’s something deep down at our core that makes folks want to create. That desire—that need—is downright instinctual. Given that crafting is essential to the very design of Minecraft, it makes sense that it would sate this need. The 1.8 million and growing people who have purchased Minecraft can speak to that. It’s a literal sandbox in the virtual realm.
This probably requires a little background, so, bear with me here.
I couldn’t tell you why exactly I stopped playing Minecraft. I guess I’d done just about all there was to do. Over the course of 40 or so hours, I’d crafted myself a series of bases and then linked them via an underwater rail system. All in all, that was a sweet little world I had carved for myself. But I soon grew bored and, one day, I found myself without the desire to log back in.
I just up and stopped. There were no moments where I looked back fondly and wished for the time to build again. I’d been there and done that. There was nothing left for me in Minecraft, and, apparently, I had kicked the addiction.
Or so I thought.
Fast-forward to a few weeks ago. I’d kept tabs on the development, of course, but hadn’t touched Minecrack since December. On a lark, I asked a close friend if he’d be interested in starting a Survival Multiplayer—or SMP—server together. Somewhat surprisingly, he responded immediately with his interest and by that night we were building.
There was no big instigation for my sudden interest. I wasn’t swayed by any particular update to the game. In fact, had I paid more careful attention, I might have waited a bit. An update went live the day after we put the server up. Our timing, as always, was impeccable.
But after that little hiccup, we were off and running. Days later, we had four major bases with connecting walkways, two farms and a water elevator. Of course, we also had the entirely superfluous obsidian doorway to the Nether. That’s what we get for not paying close enough attention to what works and what doesn’t in SMP.
We made a few pacts when we began. No cheating with console commands, no major game-altering modifications and only a small number of our friends were invited. To this day, beyond my friend and me, only three others have walked a day cycle in our world. While this might seem antithetical to what a multiplayer environment might typically encourage, we’ve found no reason to go outside our tight-knit group.
Maybe that’s all it takes though. Playing by myself and creating these magnificent structures wasn’t enough. Sure, it was grand to see them completely realized and stacked block on block… but I was the only person that would be seeing it. All of these wondrous things would go no further than this, serve no purpose beyond it. I think that’s when I hung up my pixelated shovel and pick.
This is why it’s enough to share my floating fortress with mostly just the one friend I’ve had since I was eight. He has a degree in graphic design and knows what looks good. Beyond that, he’s a musician who owns more instruments than he knows how to play. The days when he logs on, presses T to chat and immediately says “whoa” about something I’ve just finished are good ones.
Creating for the sake of creation never sated that primal hunger; it merely abated it. Creating for the sake of appreciation, even if only by a select few? That seems to hit the spot.
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