Warning: Don’t Let Minecraft Destroy Your Life
A weird thing happens when you play Minecraft.
You don’t stop.
Not like a “This is a good stopping point… but I guess I could always do this” kind of not stopping, but a “Wait… Wasn’t it just daytime?” kind of not stopping.
And if you consider that that’s what games are supposed to do—make you keep playing by being that fun and addictive—then Minecraft is a huge success; it’s like a living mini-game with a batch of other mini-games rolled up inside of it. Can you build a house and survive the night, when all the monsters come out? Can you find caves full of minerals? Can you make it back out of those caves before monsters kill you? Can you make an awesome mine cart track with those materials? Like the best sandbox games, Minecraft snowballs lots of gameplay elements into one, making for an extremely addictive experience.
Possibly… too addictive. So addictive that you need to be warned.
What to Look Out For
You’re walking in public and you see a circular swimming pool. You frown. You continue along, however, and see a nice, square building made out of bricks and you smile. At right then, your brain files that building under “Things that Make Sense.”
That’s just a facet of a particular brand of Minecraft addiction called Minecraft Defeated Reality Syndrome (or MDRS). MDRS is the disappointment you know you’ll experience if you go down to the park, shovel out a portion of dirt and find that it isn’t a perfect square.
Or that wolves probably wouldn’t just follow you if you threw them bones.
Or that chickens aren’t actually super-cute, duck-looking little guys.
Or that pumpkins don’t naturally come with faces already carved into them.
Or that (and this is my favorite aspect of MDRS) that at night, the world won’t become overrun with monsters for you to kill.
If you experience disappointment in any of these areas, it’s natural; there’s something in the game’s makeup that makes you wish life was as simple (even if its as simple as “There are monsters at night that are pretty easy to kill). And really, that’s part of what games are supposed to do—be a way to escape the complications of life for a while (like lots of entertainment). As a guy who loves to travel but gets to do it very rarely, Minecraft takes it to the next level though by providing a huge world to explore with rolling hills, a huge, blue sky, mysterious caverns, and a soundtrack that speaks of the wonder of all of those places. For you, it may be the simplicity of finding a nice place and just building a house you love in a half hour—or some other kind of gratification that would demand years in real life. The point is, whatever gets you, it’s understandable; Minecraft is amazing and there’s nothing wrong with having lots of fun in it.
If, however, it’s been so long that you’re no longer sure if the sun is actually square or if you’re intending to take an ax to the floorboards of you living room with the intent of taking them to the beach, burrowing into the sand, and then making them into a roof, you should really, really reconsider.
At the very least, reconsider until Japan makes everything into blocks.
Things to Do in Minecraft When You’re Not at All Looking Out For the Signs of MDRS
Water Bucket Olympics - A buddy of mine is building an epic, underground city of serious scope. There are sculptures and pillars encasing lava behind glass to create lava sculptures—all kinds of madness. My favorite part though? The mile of stairs that lead down into the city. Why? Because I like water slides.
Fill a bucket with water, take it to the top of a wide staircase, and pour it down. It will slinky its way to the bottom and (if you form a bowl at the bottom of the structure (like my friend did) the water will pool there but never overflow. You’re then at your leisure to slide down to the bottom over and over (although I usually just pour the water out, recollect the source, and ride the ever expanding hydro snake to the very bottom.
More fun and more useful by far is the Water Elevator. Up really high? Have a bucket of water? Pour the source block at the edge of the structure, recollect it, and then ride the slowly diminishing water pillar down to ground level once again for zero damage.
Last thing, and people must know this (probably all of this) but I enjoy writing about it—Bucket Breathing. Want to explore the deep seas? Have buckets? Bring them with you and when you’re low on breath, stop moving and Collect a bucket full with left trigger. And just like that, you’ve got a momentary block of air that gives you back all of your bubbles.
Lava Sculptures - I mean, does this really even need explaining? Lava won’t burn most blocks, so if you, say, hollow out part of a beach and pour some in, maybe on the beach right across from your friend’s house so that he can’t miss it but say absolutely nothing about it?
Also, using lava with glass, you can create things like, perhaps, you can put the “face” in “edifice” (I know. Just roll with it, please).
Adventure Time - Naturally, you’re going to get caught up with whatever crazy project, but if you’re playing with friends (and really, you should be) nothing’s better for breaking the pace than gathering survival gear, hopping into boats, sailing as far as you can in one direction and exploring.
For best results, designate character classes (Fighter, Archer, etc.) although you’ll have to include game specific ones (like… I dunno… Pathfinder?). Also useful? Designating goals (i.e. “the Quest for Snow,” “the Quest for Clay” or whatever).
Something to Not Do in Minecraft (Seriously)
Don’t be a creeper.
No, I don’t mean the in-game creepers. I mean real life creepers. You know how Minecraft mirrors reality juuuuuust enough that you wind up really loving your home? Well, it also mirrors reality enough that it’s insanely creepy when someone says, “I’ve been hopping into your world all week and hiding from / watching you! You didn’t notice?”
No. I didn’t know you were watching me… for a week. <shudder>
For the record, this has actually happened to me. Granted, it wasn’t just one guy being a crazy Gollum on his own; his girlfriend (Mrs. Gollum or perhaps She-Gollum) was with him (and man, are they perfect for each other or what?). Regardless though, hearing that is exactly like suddenly finding a video camera in your bathroom or one trained on your bedroom window; in short, there are so many levels of real-life creepy involved that it’s enough to damage the experience. Happily building away on an open world so your friends can hop on at will and build their own stuff, resulting in a city totally turns into walking around and cleaning up all of your own personal Ratman’s messes. In my case, it was a bunch of trees, some broken windows, and the creepiest house in the world, which, via a series of incredibly deep and claustrophobic tunnels, led right into some of my own structures. Yep. “Terrifying” defined.
There’s nothing at all wrong with hopping into someone’s game. There’s nothing at all wrong with saying, “I’m actually going to start building on the other side of the map so you may not see me.” There’s nothing wrong with hopping in, saying hello, and not even talking about what you’re doing.
However, there’s always something wrong with going for super creep.
Regardless, Something to Do Immediately in Real Life
Buy Minecraft. And set it to Invite Only.