As a dull piano chimes a slow-paced melody in the distance, and the blocky clouds above drift across an otherwise blemish-free skyline, I spawn for the first time in the world of Minecraft. After palming my meaty, cuboid arm in the general direction of what I can only assume are trees, I collect my oh-so precious wood, and using my god-given abilities of construction, I turn that shit into wood planks. Two hours, several more trips to the forest, one regrettable altercation with a cow and three deaths later, and my 30 foot giant penis is completed. Now to get started on my house…
Alas, I’m kidding, as my early hours in Minecraft did not consist of giant-manhood replication. For now, I will file that idea under ‘Future Projects’. Amazingly, the real charm of Minecraft doesn’t lie in its ability to allow block-based phallic modelling, for Minecraft is a little more complex than that. You gather materials, forge others, construct tools, erect (ahem) buildings and survive the monster laden nights. Then, when morning comes, you do it all over again. It seems simple, but underneath the singular dimension of the surface lays a paradigm of other possibilities. Think of Minecraft as a spectrum; if you shoot a singular beam of light into it, you will get several other dispersed paths out of the other side. You can follow them all, or you can stick to just one, the choice is all yours. Maybe that was a bit of a weak analogy, but what I’m getting at is that Minecraft is as complex, confusing, infuriating, simple, easy and one-dimensional as you want it to be. You’re the light and day in a world which will bend to your whim, or blow up spectacularly in your face and destroy everything that you have ever created. Analogies aside, let’s build some shit.
I – Block Party
Game loaded, map randomly-generated and invite accepted, here we go. Unlike in Skyrim, I began my Minecraft escapades with a friend. Ryan is his name in actuality, but here we’ll just call him Steve. So, myself and Steve are immediately dropped onto snow-capped tundra in the middle of what seems to be a mix of High Hrothgar and the Lake District. Knowing from our respective time in the tutorial that night approaches faster than you can say “Chickens on my furnace”, we immediately begin hollowing out a small base from which to commence our livelihood. Steve is punching dirt, whilst I dominate some nearby wood. Needless to say, night was instantly upon us, and our hoarding was quickly ceased.
Steve abruptly fashioned a roof out of wood planks and sealed it shut with a trapdoor. As the stars dotted into view and the moon rose slowly over the hilly landscape, we looked precariously through the trapdoor, wondering what was on the other side. All manner of ghosts and ghouls lurked beyond our poorly constructed ‘Protection Cube’, and we couldn’t do a single thing about it other than wait it out. Minecraft, you fickle son of a bitch.
The night was long and arduous. Ryan, sorry ‘Steve’, and I passed the time by plotting our next course of action for the upcoming morn, and recounting what a terrible film ‘Battleship’ was. United over our hate for that terrible excuse for a film, we survived, and cracked open the trapdoor at sunrise. As the nearby land was covered in flaming enemies, set on fire by the day’s first light, Steve and I proceeded across the ice chasm that separated our home from the main landmass of our world. After laying waste to a small forest, we returned to our dwelling with our raw wood, and commenced turning our ‘shack’ into what can only be described as a ‘deluxe shack’. A few more nights passed, with each coming day bringing a new noteworthy improvement to our home. As if we were actually starting the ‘beat’ the game, we only woke for the intention of making our abode bigger, stronger and more fortified. Creepers, Zombies and Skeletons all looked in wonder at what was quickly becoming the overwhelming centrepiece of our world. At night, we plotted the genocide of our enemies, and by day we lowered forests for the sake of that sweet, sweet wood. By the end of our fifth day, we were living like kings. Take that, Minecraft!
II – The Tux
Maybe that ‘living like kings’ thing was a bit of an exaggeration. From the outside, our home didn’t look like much, and from the inside, we only lived in a two floor extension of the hole that we stayed in during the first night. We were ambitious though, and we had big plans for the place. First things first, more gathering of materials.
A few more day and night cycles passed before we theorized a third floor to what would become known as ‘Tabernacle Tower’. Our home was looking pretty swank already though. We had beds (woo!), a furnace (yeah!), several storage chests (dude!), a staircase (serious?) and even some fine artwork donning the walls around us (fuck yeah impressionism!). What we didn’t intend was for our valuable space to be invaded by a lone chicken. At some point when we were gathering materials, someone (Steve) left our front door open, and in waltzed a rogue chicken, carelessly analysing its surroundings, before making its way to our bedroom and settling down. Every time we needed to get something from our chests, sleep in our beds or fashion something in the furnace, that gawking fucker to stood there, looking deep into our souls, plotting our eventual demise. Naturally, we assumed that he was working with our enemy, the ‘mob’, so Steve hatched a plan to kick him into the furnace when he wasn’t looking. Turns out, you can’t do that, so I decided to try and pick him up and lock him in a chest. Turns out, you can’t do that either. Having come up with a whole two ideas which didn’t come to fruition, me and Steve decided to just go about our business without acknowledging his existence. As it happens, chickens don’t really like to be ignored, cue a shitload of chicken head-butting, and one small house fire.
Next day, it was time for him to leave. Steve ushered the chicken that came to be known as ‘Buddy’ up a flight of stairs and into the mouth of an open front door. From there, he left, never to be seen again. I remember the time that we were going to burn him alive in a furnace…good times…(sniff).
Night came around pretty quick that day, and after the ‘Chicken-gate’ debacle, we were behind schedule. Steve toasted wood in the furnace whilst I sealed off the unfinished third floor to prevent any nightly invaders. Just as we were preparing to call it a day, a notification popped onto our screen; ‘The Tux has joined the game’. Can it be? Turns out, it can. Our good friend Josh, henceforth known as ‘The Tux’ entered our modular world for the first time, and began his personal Minecraft experience by running for his life after spawning outside during the twilight hours. As a plethora of Zombies and Skeletons vied to pick his finely-coiffured hair from his head, Tux headed for the flickering beacon of ‘Tabernacle Tower’ which lied in the distance. Using the strafing techniques that he had honed in ‘Gears of War 3’ and the downright pace he had lacked in ‘Gears of War 3’, Tux made it to the house just in time for Steve to open the door. Tux dived in with reckless abandon and immediately threw his map at me in a fit of Creeper-induced rage. Turns out, he hadn’t actually mastered the buttons yet. I gave him back his map. With a third pair of hands to help us master the art of deforestation, we began our slumber, waiting for the approaching morning where our trifecta of cubed-resilience would take this world as our own, and at long last, we would craft that giant penis. Not for ourselves though, it is more of a giant ‘fuck you’ to the Creepers. Honest.
III – Mein-Kraft
The next morning, we woke early, resolved to survive until the very end of the world (of Minecraft) and so began by pillaging all raw materials we could find. Steve axed several cows and made himself a leather suit, whilst Tux traversed a waterfall like a King Salmon. I on the other hand laid waste to an entire forest so fast that a Chinese logging company would be proud. With our collective materials secured, we began construction on the third floor of our home. This floor would be the ‘Observatory’. Gone are the nights where we cannot cast our glance over the land, no, this observatory would allow us to view all of the ghastly goings on during the darkened hours, all from the safety of our wood-plank fortress.
As the hours passed, Steve faceted glass whilst I made the basic structure for the observatory deck. Then, when all was completed, we lit both outside and in alight with torches, so that if worse comes to worse, it would serve as a beacon to direct any lone survivors home. As I would find out later, not even the power of one-million candles would be enough to direct anyone back to Tabernacle Tower…
At this point, we were all feeling pretty damn pleased with ourselves. We had a three-floor home which had evolved from a small box in the dirt, we had many supplies and tools, and we had many more ideas for the future of the tower. What happened next however, is evocative of everything that Minecraft stands for. That false sense of security, that feeling of pride, and how quickly it can change into regret, pain and misery. The first shot of the unavoidable war was fired, and it was fired by those in green.
As Steve stepped into the observatory, he caught a glimpse of a Creeper on the ice flats not too far from our home. Pretty soon, that Creeper was right next to our observatory, and needed little provocation to go all ‘Chernobyl’ on us. With a deafening ‘bang’, the Creeper exploded, taking with it a wing of the observatory, and knocking Steve down a floor. Despite it being night, I proceeded outside to investigate; only for four more Creepers to slowly turn around and simultaneously explode, almost killing me. I fell further than I anticipated, falling into a crater that used to be our front door. As we all gathered in the main room, the Creepers had done a shit-load of damage, and we were now missing the face of our home. The Creepers saw our false sense of security, and exploited it. I imagine that at some point in the future, all three of us will be in a Minecraft retirement home, sitting down with blankets over our knees, and recalling the horror of this day. “Those Creepers man…they came from the trees…they killed Johnny…”. Well, you get the idea, I’m trying to do a whole Nam’ flashback thing here. Nevertheless, the next day, the rebuilding process began in haste. Now, with less materials (most of which were destroyed) and not even a front door to our name, we solemnly resolved to fight back at the Green Fuhrer, and avenge our fallen wood planks. Creeper-Hitler (or ‘Creepler’ as I call him) and his tiny green moustache will pay for his actions.
IV – C.A.R.P.E. D.I.E.M
It took a long time to rebuild our home to what it was before the ‘Great Creeper Nuke of 2012’. As Steve and Tux, united by their new found hate of Creepers, began to reconstruct our home, I ventured out on my own for the first time, and proceeded beyond the waterfall known as ‘Mount Splashmore’. I don’t know exactly what I was looking for, but I thought only good could come from my excursion. ‘Carpe Diem’, as they say.
I mountaineered over cliffs, swam across lakes and sheered more sheep than a Remington razor, before reaching an impassable mountain. It was quickly apparent that without the aid of my now fleeting ‘Mine-Crew’, I would not be able to pass the mountain today. As I turned around, there stood a Creeper.
Unarmed and carrying an inventory full of delicious ‘Mine-Swag’, I ran for my life, not willing to void the entire journey and return home empty handed. The Creeper gave chase, but was no match for my blistering pace, even if I did have no knee-joints. As I moved quickly, the looming darkness faded into view and only heightened my anxiety. “Is that home? Nope. Wait, is that it? No. Is that- No!”. Where do I live again?
It was a survivalist’s worst nightmare. Stuck in the wilderness, at night, the shadows littered with creatures vying for your blood. I wasn’t getting home tonight, that’s for sure. The darkness was impassable, and I wasn’t setting foot on land anytime soon. I settled for a small piece of ice and sand to call my home for the evening, and stood, watching until daybreak. Fuck ‘Carpe Diem’. That was now an acronym for ‘Cold, Alone and Regretting my Past Excursion. It’s also Dark, Icy and Especially Mob-filled out there…’ Yeah, i’m not too proud of that one…
V – Reunion
It was cold. Imagine if this wasn’t a game? Wow, I would be freezing my balls off right about now. As I stood on the ice, it rained for the first time in the game, and at the same time, down came a blizzard.
Day came around quicker than ever before, and the rescue party of Steve and Tux left to search for my frosty corpse. Declaring my position as ‘off-map’, they encouraged me to meet them half way, and directed me home using the very same map I forgot to bring with me in the first place. With the blizzard having ceased, the rain took the solo initiative of making my trek home mercilessly unpleasant. As I slipped into a cavern, I froze where I stood. Not because I was fatigued or about to pray to the great god Mara, but because standing in the way of me and my only exit from this ravine was another Creeper. The only reason it didn’t come any closer in its bid to ruin my already tarnished excursion, was that it seemed to be caught on a rock, and so as long as I stood still, so would it. Time was of the essence for my rescue party.
Locked in one of the most terrifying staring contests of my life, I kept the Creeper focused on its target whilst Tux and Steve bemoaned the distance they had to travel. If I moved even slightly to either the left or right, this green Fuhrer would make all kinds of fucking problems for me. My back was against the wall, and the green war-machine was waiting for my next move.
As my urge to make a run for it heightened, after what seemed like an age, Tux appeared on the cliff above me, distracting the Creeper. I made a run for it, only for Tux to slip and fall to his death at the feet of my green-foe. I quickly picked up as much of Tux’s stuff as I could, and made my move. Pretty soon I was in the clear and heading in the right direction. Rain continued to pour as another night slowly crept up on me. Sooner still, I was back on the ice flats to the west of our house, and was greeted by a thankful Steve, who guided me home the rest of the way. Tux was there too, having respawned following making the ultimate sacrifice on my behalf. What a top fucking bloke he is. You know, his fine attire really does speak volumes for his attitude. Steve ran into the living room, closely followed by myself and Tux. I shared my spoils of Mushrooms, Coal, Iron and precious, precious sand, and we all rejoiced at another night survived. Except for Tux, who was technically dead for a minute.
All in all, I think that was a pretty damn successful first day of Minecraft. Along with our modest home, we have materials, food, a man in a tuxedo, windows and plenty of sand. Our home has evolved from a box in the dirt with a trapdoor for a window, to a larger box in the dirt with several glass windows! Although we have yet to actually start mining, the colonization of ‘Tabernacle’ has begun, and it’s only a matter of time before our world is littered with all manner of buildings, houses and mine-cart tracks. And maybe a giant dick or two in the town square…