The Wonderful, Creative World of Minecraft
July 25, 2012
One of the reasons I bought a gigantic HDTV (with earth-shaking sound system) was to allow my son to enjoy the immersive world of hyper-realistic videogames. So what is his new favorite game to play on this HDTV? Minecraft, a game where a blocky character digs up blocks of various materials and builds blocky things out of them, all while trying to avoid blocky creepers (basically exploding shrubbery), and other blocky foes. Originally a PC game, Minecraft is now available on the XBox 360, iOS, and Android platforms as well.
Wasted resolution aside, I'm pleased that my son has gone from trash-talking frag-fests to a game that simulates a teen's most dreaded enemy: chores. Even in Creative Mode (where mining is not required), building serious creations can entail a great deal of work. And what can you create in Minecraft? Just about anything. And you can build it at a 1:1 scale, as the basic Minecraft block is 1 X 1 X 1 meter in the game world. Buildings, monuments, and cities, real and imaginary, are popular projects for Minecrafters.
While static structures are very impressive, they're not the only things one can create in Minecraft. One can create mechanical devices and circuitry. If you see where this is headed, yes, you can build a working computer inside a game running on a computer. But wait! You can even create a video game running on a virtual computer in a game running on a computer. As Neo would say, "WHOA."
Mark Frauenfelder has mused that Minecraft may be the beginning of a real-live version of Neal Stephenson's virtual reality Metaverse from his seminal novel Snow Crash. But he points out that Minecraft one-ups the Metaverse: let's say you’ve created something totally awesome in Minecraft. Wouldn’t you like to have it in real life? Enter Minecraft.Print(), a program (one of whose creators is a Truman State University graduate, w00t!) that creates a file that can be sent to a 3-D printer to create actual physical copies of objects that you've created in the Minecraft virtual world, albeit at reduced scale. So we've come full circle. You can recreate a real-world object in the in the Minecraft world, and then bring that object back into the real world. Alternatively, you could create something entirely novel in Minecraft and get a "hard copy." WHOA, indeed.
I would like to know if any of you are Minecrafters. I’d love to feature your creations in a future blog post. If you’ve created something in Minecraft that you’d like to show off, please email me and show me your amazing creations.
Watching out for creepers,