Q: What is Minecraft?
A: Great starter question! (Have you done this before?) Paraphrasing the official site, Minecraft is an immersive video game in which the player digs various 3D blocks representing minerals and then build with them. Realistically, it’s like Legos if they were made of real things like wood and stone, and if playing with them was as addictive as the blackest tar heroin available.
Q: Why is everything all pixely?
A: Yeah, so you’re going to hear words like “retro” and “throwback,” but here’s the God’s honest truth: it’s so your computer doesn’t break. Every time you make your blocky-pixel man take one step forward, the game creates another inch of the universe in front of you, from the heavens to the deepest, darkest underground reaches. As is, the game guzzles battery power like a 1973 Dodge Charger at a free fossil fuel party. If you tried to play a version of Minecraft that attempted to render individual dirt particles instead of a dirt-colored cube, your computer would just call the cops on you for committing a hate crime.
Q: How do you win?
A: Just as in real life, the only end to the game is to feel as though you’ve collected enough material goods, grow bored, and end it all.
Q: Is this where that green block monster thing I’ve seen is from?
A: You’re either referring to Shakespeare’s physical manifestation of jealousy, or a Creeper from “Minecraft.” That’s a monster that appears at night, sneaks up behind you and explodes, killing you, or destroying an object that you spent the last hour building. In real life we call Creepers “mistakes” or “children.”
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Q: What kinds of things can you build?
A: Do you actually care? Seriously? Like, what object could I list here that would affect your decision to play this game? I could say, “Yes! You can build a book out of three pieces of paper and an animal hide,” or “No, unfortunately you can’t build a dragon,” and both of those things are true. But you’re still going to be thinking the same thing you were thinking before I answered the question: either “I think I’m going to buy this game,” or “This game sounds boring and dumb.”
Q: I’m not much of a “gamer.” Is this something I would enjoy?
A: Be careful: use of the word “gamer” on the Internet is now politically fraught. Let’s go with “game enthusiast.”
Q: Are you going to make me type out my question again with “game enthusiast” instead of “gamer?”
A: No. Listen, “Minecraft” is great, but you’re a grown-ass adult with bills to pay and to-do lists and all of that. You don’t have time to pour all your time into mining for diamonds (as in real life, in Minecraft those are very rare, but the only life exploited to obtain them is your own). Instead of building a digital house out of bricks that you made by heating up clay that you dug out of a nearby pond, go to work and use the money you earn (found in your inventory) and pay a contractor to build you an actual house. You have things to do and people that rely on you. If you’re in middle school: yes!
Illustration via cinemablend.com