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Minecraft: The changes exist in the world around you

Minecraft: The changes exist in the world around you


These days when talking about my favorite games, the topic of Minecraft often gets raised. While relating my exploits to some friends the response inevitably is “that game sounds really cool and all, but I just don’t get the point. Why even play it?”

It’s a fair question.

For those unfamiliar with the game, Minecraft is a sandbox that allows you to play around as you see fit. Similar to a set of LEGOs, you can mold the world to construct, well… whatever you want really. And even though there are monsters and bosses in the game, it can’t really be beaten. There’s no specific endpoint to the game. You can go do stuff, and the game messes with you enough to keep things interesting. It’s a simple as that.

But without any goals or narrative driving you forwards, what really is the point of turning on the game in the first place? The same could be said of many other games. Take any MMO for instance. You can grow your power, interact with your friends, become as mighty as the game allows… but then what? Well you’re stronger now, and you’ve got trophies to show off to everyone else that plays the game. Minecraft doesn’t boast the same sense of personal growth. The changes exist in the world around you.

So what did you gain?

There is a famous psychological classification called “The Bartle Test of Gamer Psychology” that seeks to place gamers along four distinct categories: Achievers, Explorers, Socializers and Killers. Minecraft offers little to the traditional Achievers and Killers, with scant bragging rights offered by the generally creative atmosphere of the game.


Nobody is there to thank you for slaying the dragon. Combat between players isn’t particularly interesting on its own. The game just isn’t asking to be conquered.

Meanwhile, Explorers and Socializers will find a rich web of game mechanics which allow for experiences that cannot be found anywhere else. Socializers find infinite opportunity for expression through the ability to create grand works of art and architecture. Multiplayer servers allow you to cooperate with your friends, creating adventures and cities together.

Explorers benefit from the rich, randomly generated environments waiting to be charted. In this game, you literally never know what’s around the next corner. There is no certain path to get from point A to point B. Moving through the environment often requires feats of engineering and problem solving unique to this game. Players find themselves foraging for supplies to create bridges across chasms, torches to light dungeons and ladders to scale cliffs. And there’s always the promise of rare treasure in the dark dungeons and caverns that dot the landscape.

So Minecraft isn’t for everyone, no surprises there. And to anyone considering picking up this game for themselves, I ask the question “are you looking to beat a game? Or are you looking to play a game.” If it’s the latter, Minecraft has something special and definitely deserves a look.

– Mark Capers