What can you say about the progression of Minecraft and the impact it has had on the video game industry over the past five years?
It’s spawned its own clothing lines, merchandise, been ported to every device under the sun, made stars out of YouTube gamers and has turned the industry upside down.
The procedurally generated sandbox survival game created by Notch has grown and grown and, as far as the game is concerned, shows no signs of stopping. New mini-game servers are launched all the time, people are still lapping up the content created by it and as an experience, it’s now a comfortable yet challenging old friend.
Normally with these kind of articles, we recount our experiences with the game, our favourite things that worked well and bits that didn’t. Except Minecraft isn’t a finite entity. It’s still going and new things are continually happening.
For me personally, and you can read many things that designers and industry folk have said about Minecraft, it is all about what the game does for you. There are people that use it for education, for PvP gaming, for a benchmark in their own games and even just laud it for inspiration (see Peter Molyneux).
But for me, it’s the ability to have your own deeply personal adventure. The world is your own randomly generated world. You do what you want in terms of building things, choosing your own path and your own story. You set how challenging its going to be for you and this kind of ‘create your own’ narrative is exactly what keeps me coming back to it. And whatever new things come or mad inventions are created, it always feels like a new experience.
You may have your own thoughts and memories on Minecraft, but as it’s five years old, I’m going to take you through five of my favourite things that Minecraft has done or created in that time:
A completely accidental creation. During the original programming for the game Notch had accidentally created an exploding pig. He didn’t know this until said pig walked up to him and exploded. Then, the Creeper was born. It is the most wonderful and hilariously frightening creature to have graced video gaming and makes some damn fine records, if you know how.
The Far Lands (Or Bust?)
Back in its beta days, the game had an area known as the far lands. These are the furthest point from where you spawn. The game procedurally generates based on coding and mathematical formula, but it gets to such a point where the code breaks down. Like a signal degradation if you will. This creates the far lands, an area of crazy and random landscapes, completely strange block placement and a place where the rules of Minecraft no longer apply.
If you happen to go YouTube, you may have heard of a content producer called Kurt J Mac. Since 2011, this crazy guy has decided to walk to the far lands with his canine companion Wolfie, and has been producing steady episodes of this since all in the name of charity. Even when he accidentally lost Wolfie and certain Gallifreyan-esque mechanics were used to retrieve him, the show carried on. So far, just over $269,000 has been raised for the Childs Play Charity by this endeavour alone, including donations from Notch. That is good (to quote Kurt J Mac) ‘INDEED!’
Ultra Hardcore Mode
Sticking with the YouTube thing, this is a custom modded game mode that was so popular, Mojang built the ability to do it in to the game. Popularised and I dare say invented by the MindCrack gaming network, UHC is the ultimate in survival PvP multiplayer. Either solo, or in teams, you start at random points at the map with the aim of being the sole survivor. You play the game like survival but with rules in place such as no strip mining. The key thing here is that health regeneration is turned off so if you take damage, that damage will stick.
In the MindCrack rules, regeneration potions are banned too so that the only way you’re getting that health back is by a golden apple. Everything else is a scary free-for-all – you can put whatever modifiers to the rules that you like. The Hermitcraft’s UHC is currently making use of the newly implemented world border function to force people towards the middle or else face death. It makes for excellent viewing (MindCrack recently finished their 15th season of it) and if you can round up enough friends, it is definitely worth trying.
Well mods are going to come for any game aren’t they? Hell, I’ve had or seen mods for pretty much every PC game I’ve ever owned. But the Minecraft mods are so inventive, complex, easy, crazy, and impressive that they are at times new games in themselves. Not even counting the thousands of custom maps that have been created. The most well known modded pack is probably Feed The Beast, which is a collection of many mods thrown together. My personal favourite is the recent Attack of the B-Team mod pack. But there’s so many things like TerrafirmaCraft, Hexit, Skyblock, Agrarian Skies, CrackPack, Magic Farm, Life in the Woods… Too many to mention. These all contain mods with new biomes, new and better storage, more blocks and construction options and even technology.
The most impressive thing is, and anyone who’s massivly modded a game will know this, how well the base game actually copes. Yes there some glitches but for the level of modding that goes on, Minecraft is an excellent platform. And seeing as Mojang love this (they’ve even emplyed people from the mod community to work on the game) it makes for an excellent marriage.
Gaming communities are well known for their supportiveness of a game. But the Minecraft community has become much more than that. It’s become much bigger than the gaming trolls of online FPS play and surpassed the sharing communities of forums past. It is a community that stretches the globe, enjoys and supports the people that make the content they watch. It encourages involvement and maybe that’s because the game isn’t about victory but about working together to create something better. The official MineCon convention has come from this desire to bring the community together, and gaming conventions themselves now hold panels featuring Minecraft personalities to help other with the game from redstone, to YouTube and even to just having a good laugh. It is a community, once you get past the trolls and the haters, that makes you want to get involved and play. Even from the production of content, the MindCrack community has produced some of the best personalities and content from gaming, pranking, building and even role play that not only inspires the community but makes many people come together to share their enjoyment of the game and the content.
I’ve missed loads of course and we all have such specific personal memories of playing on Minecraft. Why not share yours with us? Tweet us or comment on Facebook. I’d personally love to hear your thoughts and stories!
Happy birthday Minecraft.