Made by Swedish game developer Markus Person and eventually bought out by Microsoft in September of 2014, Minecraft has become a staple of Generation Z's gaming experience. Originally released in 2009 and being updated consistently by Mojang ever since, Minecraft can be considered the epitome of an 'unstoppable' game, with no title ever able to really replicate the amount of time, love, and the eternal formula of being able to creatively edit the world around you with no feasible limitations whatsoever. In this realm of blocks, monsters, and nostalgic soundtracks that'll make you remember the late 2000s and early 2010s, Minecraft remains the virtual king of many gamer hearts, as I know it does my own. So what exactly keeps this story (or lack thereof) of an intrepid, blocky man and his adventures kicking to this day? Let's find out, on a very special edition of this Review Series.
Initially started as a demo app, Minecraft has grown into arguably the most successful videogame of all time, with thousands of Youtubers still producing daily content for it (among these videos are some of the best finds you'll ever enjoy on the website), builders that have constructed some honestly astonishingly good creations using only the tools Minecraft provides them, a loyal and dedicated fanbase once powered by curiosity, now by nostalgia, and countless other factors that make this game a massive, lucrative empire. It's no wonder why Microsoft wanted a piece of this amazing pie. Despite a Microsoft buyout, Mojang relatively still bears creative control over updating the game and upholding public relations with its fanbase, whilst also actively trying to expand it in consistent endeavors to show newbies the timeless greatness of this game. While over the 2010s, Minecraft experienced a colossal peak, and eventual downgrade in popularity, 2019 and 2020 have been kind towards our friendly neighborhood Blockman, with a sort of Renaissance over the game sparking on the internet as people, either younger kids curious to investigate what all the rage is about, veteran players (like myself) who want to experience the memories they forged on this game once more, alongside new Youtubers that have risen to take the place of the now fallen old pantheon. While some of the veteran Youtubers of Minecraft still remain, such as CaptainSparklez, Yogscast, and SkyDoesMinecraft, their viewing and popularity unfortunately remains a shadowy husk of their former self. It's honestly quite a shame, considering it was these guys and many other creators like them that gave me the courage and entertainment I needed to beg my parents into buying this game for me. I have never once in my life regretted that decision.
But while its cultural appeal is known, let's discuss the in-game enjoyments you can derive from this phenomenon. After all, the hype had to start from somewhere, right? In Minecraft's case, indeed it did. If you're not familiar, the game's singleplayer mode starts you out in the midst of nowhere, in an infinitely generated blocky world. Your character, an avatar commonly known as 'Steve', is equipped with utterly nothing entering this new frontier, and you're tasked with gathering the materials necessary to survive your inevitable journeys in this landscape. You punch wood to get the wood necessary for a crafting table and the weaponry and tools you'd gain from that (don't try that in real life though), and use these subsequent armaments to begin expanding your hold on the world. Using your pickaxe, sword, hoe (I know what you're imagining, it's the FARMING tool I'm referring too), and axe, you construct your house, fight off the deadly enemies of Minecraft (called Mobs whom spawn during the game's night-cycle), and create your own base of operations. From there, you're basically... allowed to do whatever. Yeah. You can continue gathering more wood and minerals to further strengthen your character, slaughter mobs, and just remain satisfied with that routine the rest of your playthrough. Of course, most people don't stop here, as that's usually a recipe for boredom. But here's where the first, most obvious, and in my opinion, the greatest strength of Minecraft's game design comes from; you can CHOOSE to do that. Linear videogames are certainly fun, but sometimes, you don't want a faceless voice or character to give you handheld instructions on how to survive this level or defeat this army of aliens or what have you. Instead, you just want utter freedom. That's what Minecraft is. You can choose to pursue the game's vanilla path, which is gathering the necessary items such as Enderpearls and Blaze Rods to eventually confront the 'final boss', this being the Enderdragon, and slaying it. But you don't receive any reward. Your avatar isn't rewarded with immense riches or gains lauding praise from the people of Minecraft. Instead, you're plopped back into the area you started from after a rather mysterious, interesting dialogue between two unidentified characters. There are countless videos deliberating what this end-credits dialogue exactly is and WHO is speaking it, but that's not really something I'll get into.
You might disagree with such a style. Maybe you want a true meaning to be applied to what you embark on in this blocky realm. But that's the kicker. In Minecraft, it's YOU who chooses the meaning of what you do. Despite the lack of handholding and narrative the singleplayer mode provides, your actions still heavily affect the world. You can use the bones from fallen Skeleton enemies to tame dogs and make them your pets. You can protect Villages from raids by the creatively named... Illagers. Yeah, I don't think Mojang puts much into the budget of their naming department judging from that, but whatever. If you beat these Illager raids, the locals of the Village will grant you better trade deals as their gratitude for your work. In essence, Minecraft's Steve is the zenith, the paragon, the undefeated master of being the Player's embodiment in the world. He has no personality, no goals, no destiny, no life, until YOU grant him such items of agency. YOU are ultimately the one who steers Steve into creating immense castles, humble shacks, bedazzling cities, and so MUCH more. Hell, if you want, his name doesn't even have to be Steve. You can name him Joe, or Argiyoant the Lord of Death if that's your speed. In Minecraft, all that's provided in singleplayer is the base game outline, the coding, the world around you, the rest is literally up to your designs and imaginations. That's pretty genius for a game that also has green, scaly suicide-bombers as its most recognizable entity. (Damn those Creepers...)
But if singleplayer's not your speed, if you've had enough fun mucking about in a world without any interaction, you could start up a realm with your friends, or join them in Multiplayer. Minecraft's Multiplayer section is just as, if not far more extensive, exorbitant, and developed as its Singleplayer community. There are possibly millions of servers that you can play on for an experience unique to the blocky adventures of Minecraft. Wanna join someone's faction and battle against other kingdoms on the server? Join a Faction War Server. Or maybe you desire to show off your builds to other Minecrafters. Creative's your choice. Maybe you wanna take a load off after a long day and just wanna play some mindless, fun minigames. Some of the largest multiplayer servers are dedicated to minigame shenanigans (looking at you Hypixel). Honestly, my most memorable Minecraft moments that I can envision off the top of my head are Multiplayer. While I've played the Singleplayer countless times, I've never really made a defining moment in there for me personally. I've tamed dogs and beaten the game, but in Multiplayer, I can say I've battled in faction wars, built wacky structures in Creative (I'm not really a good Builder at all though), played Minigames with clutch plays, and much more. Multiplayer in Minecraft is practically its own other gamemode, with an infinite range of opportunities that only the unique community the game has spawned could ever produce. The game's community is what truly makes it stand supreme. Without its constant support, Mojang would feel discouraged to ever update or care for their property. But what they've started will not so easily die out in the ever-changing flux of fads and trends that dominate our world today. Minecraft was born in a more innocent age of the Internet. Back when many of the massive social media giants we see today were merely spuds that were growing their wings, when content was still somewhat original and fresh, when Gen Z were still young and idealistic about the world. It is a hallmark of those old summers that seem far longer than they are now, when everyone would play Minecraft for stretches of time, feeling as though they were truly attuned with their childhood's innocence. Such an ideal, such an idea, it may change. Definitely, you can say Minecraft's community has aged over the decade, become matured, and so the Multiplayer segment reflects this in some ways. But to see Minecraft update with the times rather than die off, with remnants of its old power stubbornly cling onto long-past glories, is a wondrous sight to see. It proves that Minecraft's Community is as fluid as the game itself, an ever-adapting slate that anyone can contribute towards.
Minecraft has been a pop culture phenomenon since its inception. It's spawned countless references in television and other videogames, and let's not forget the terrifying internet legend that captivated so many young minds and hearts. I can't tell you the amount of sleep lost thinking that Herobrine, who in essence is literally just a pupil-less version of regular Steve, would seep into my dreams and make me his flesh-puppets or send me to his torture dimension. Yes. Back in the day, I believed Herobrine was a demonic spirit that could transcend the digital boundaries of Minecraft and wreak havoc upon the material realm of us mortals. Sue me. In truth, Minecraft's ability to spawn lore and stories is infinite, because the game itself is a blank slate just waiting to be written upon. Herobrine, once an internet spook story, is now an example of how Minecraft's potential for cultural fascination is limitless. Who knew you could scare the living daylights out of people from a game with a relatively silly premise and simplistic design?
But that's not even the half of it. I'm not even going into the awesome animations produced by such talented individuals like Slamacow or CaptainSparklez's 'Fallen Kingdom' series, or the new dominant Minecraft Youtuber Dream, who has beaten the speedrun record for the game... multiple times! He's beat his own record! Few people can say that, especially for a videogame. SkyDoesMinecraft or BajanCandian or the numerous others that made videos on the Minecraft 'Hunger Games' minigame and the many others available to play at the click of a button. This was a generation of silliness, a generation of laughs and fun without any of the messy implications. There was no culture war, and everyone just seemed to have a good time whenever Minecraft was involved. Of course, this is definitely nostalgia speaking, and each period of history has its ups and downs. But I'll stand by my statement that Minecraft eased the lives of people going through a tough time and made people who were going through greatness in their lives feel even better, and made everyone in between excited by the prospect of logging onto a server or world and helping their friends, or simply going on another solo adventure. Back then, YouTube was not a cesspool of drama, politics was less divisive (or at least, it was less apparent), it just seemed like life was simpler as a young teen or kid about to become a teenager, and Minecraft was the zenith of that time. What I've written here doesn't do Minecraft one-one quadrillionth of the justice its owed on even the smallest scale. What it's done to change so many lives for the better is incomprehensible in scale, and I doubt Markus Perrson, better known by his alias 'Notch', knew that he'd be creating such a treasure when he was developing this little indie game in his dorm room.
Personally, Minecraft has been an unforgettable experience. It's more than a game, it's a memory and adventure that I continue to this day. I still frequently play MC when I could be playing more recent, stylish games simply to join my friends and get caught up in the same feeling of embarking on a new quest, whatever it may be. Sure, the feelings aren't the EXACT same as they were then, you can't replicate the joys and hardships of youth after all. I mean, hell, I got Minecraft on a dusty old Mac that heated up to near unbearable levels whenever I played an extended session of the game, but that's what I loved about those days. The simplicity, the cluelessness, the fun of it all. That's what so many people love about their origin days with Minecraft. Because in the end, while many may try, no game can really copy what Minecraft was. This may just be my nostalgia talking, but I'll stand by that MC isn't able to be copied or made a sequel of, only eternally expanded upon and forever tended too by its community. If you've never played this game, you're either a newborn or missing out definitely. It's worth every penny, and you should go check it out at once! Because in the end, Minecraft's design is so genius, that no matter what you do... you'll always have a lasting impact.
Awesome Childhood Memories/10. Keep on keeping on, Minecraft. We all love ya.
Also Herobrine if you're real please don't invade my Minecraft worlds I'll worship you