The year of our Lord two thousand and ten began with the second half of a one two punch from BioWare. In the middle of winter Mass Effect 2 set the ‘Game of the Year’ bar high and early months after opening us up with a Dragon Age: Origins jab in the autumn of ’09. Rockstar Games continued the theme in the spring and gave us more choices in which to exercise our free will on the path to Red Dead Redemption. This summer a possible end game of all this choosing was brought home by going to and through LIMBO. It was in this context that Minecraft was graciously introduced.
Currently in Alpha and officially unreleased Minecraft is the Game of the Year or, if you’ll allow me, the Omega game of 2010. To understand why this is true think back with me, for a moment, to a time sometime after the beginning of time.
. . . And the serpent said unto the woman, “You shall not surely die. For God knows that the day you eat of it (the fruit of the tree) your eyes shall be opened and you shall be as God, knowing good and evil.” And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food and that it was a desirable thing and a tree to be desired to make one wise she took of the fruit thereof . . .
Keep that age old consequence in the back of your mind but come back to the present. Start up a session of Minecraft with me and here is what we will experience.
The game begins with a pixelated brown screen and two small but significant lines of text: “Generating Level - Building Terrain” followed by “Generating Level - Stimulating World For A Bit.” To forsake subtlety and subtext allow me to call them Genesis chapters one and two respectively.
We are then placed into this garden –sorry, I mean, then our avatar spawns in to this level and we are surrounded by this beautifully crafted world. We can walk a distance eight times the size of Earth and not find the same place twice. Minecraft is full of oceans and continents, beaches and lagoons, mountain tops and valleys, waterfalls and lava flows, pastures and deserts. It goes on and on and on.
We soon realize this wonderfully generated world is inhabited. There are animals of all kinds, flowers and fauna, plants and pigs - and this one tree. Well, there are a ton of trees but they are all the same tree. Everywhere we go, look or turn there it is; the same tree.
In all actuality it is quite unfair. It is as if the game sets us up for failure/success *wink, wink* and literally begs us, “You see the tree and the fruit of it. Satisfy your desire for it. Take the wisdom within and recreate this world your way.” It doesn’t yell it at us, hit us over the head with it or coerce us. Minecraft simply and silently presents us with the opportunity and we take it – I mean, we hold down the left mouse button and collect the wood.
“Wait, wait, wait,” you might be thinking, “don’t you think you are stretching it a bit here? This is a video game not some lesson on morality, choice, free will – or, or creation you sneaky jerk. This is why we can’t have nice things . . .”
For now my response will have to be, “We will never know if starting the Tech-Tree of a game such as Minecraft with, in fact, a tree is divine providence or coincidental happenstance but in either case the irony of it is delicious.”
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