When you think of indie game, the first thing that pops to mind is the conventional glitchy, low graphics, in-browser game that has the ability to confuse and confound and may have just given your computer more viruses than a Nigerian spam email. It is a sad reality that at first glance, Minecraft may give this impression, the world is made of almost 8-bit blocks and for the first few minutes, wrapping your head around the game seems to be an impossible feat. After a few minutes though, the game’s wonderful qualities begin to shine through.
Developed as a true sandbox game, Minecraft has gained a cult following for essentially allowing players to create anything they can imagine; it has the same cathartic ability as a drawer full of Lego bricks. Originally the game was very basic, there were no monsters, few block types, and little beyond just placing a brick and seeing what you could come up with. This element still exists as Minecraft Classic, the free version of the game that can be played through their site, Minecraft.net. On the other hand, there is currently Minecraft Beta (yes, it is still in Beta) which, while costing a smidgen, is much more in depth and is truly what makes the game addicting.
|Zach Boerner / Oredigger|
Minecraft Beta (or just Minecraft from here on) is much more challenging. Instead of having an infinite number of blocks, you must gather your resources via picks, shovels, hoes, axes, and swords, which you must craft yourself. Some resources are extremely common, such as dirt, and do not require much other than holding your mouse for a few seconds to harvest, others, such as diamond, take special picks to bring out. Along with the necessity to gather resources, the real game introduces a day and night cycle and monsters that comes out based on the time of day. Where the daylight hours are peaceful and serve as the perfect time to harvest sand, crops, fish, wool, and other surface commodities, during the night the surface is filled with zombies, skeletons, and the infamous creepers, which can blow a hole in any well-laid plans.
The game is incredibly addicting and surprisingly complex for such a simple concept. Recent changes have brought in concepts and items such as circuitry, which has lead to people making basic 8-bit computers, and mine carts, which can greatly increase a mines efficiency and can even be used for roller coasters. Even after a while, the seemly low graphics brings about a quaint charm of its own in a world dominated by ultra-realistic graphics. There is also a multiplayer option that adds certain joys and frustrations and is highly recommended.
There are few better satisfactory moments than sitting back in a castle you designed with friends as zombies and creepers get knocked out by your self-designed security system, waiting for the sun to come up on a new day of creativity. To answer the question posed in the title, while many hours may be wasted through this game, it can truly bring out your creativity and teamwork.