TL;DR – I look at the highs and lows of the last 10 years of my Minecraft story, the video game I have probably spent more hours playing than anything else.
This year is Minecraft’s 10 year anniversary, and if you are like me and can remember when it first came out, well that is one of those numbers that will just make you feel old. In those 10 years, Minecraft has gone from this small Indy darling that you heard about through whispers on the internet to a full-on industry juggernaut. There have been countless videos and tutorials, and while there have been a lot of imitators, nothing has ever reached the heights of the original.
As I thought back through the last 10 years, I had the sudden realisation that I have probably spent more hours in Minecraft than any other game I have played, bar maybe Civilization thankfully Minecraft was never on Steam so there is not a tracker out there with the exact hour count. That was of course then a prompt to get all nostalgic about a simpler time, a time of dirt and cobblestone, and when zombies dropped feathers for some reason.
I can still remember the day my brother mentioned this new game that was
being talked about on the internet made by this guy in Sweden. It was this cool
survival game where at night zombies and worse come out, but during the day you
can build with resources so you can survive the night better. Of course today
this is a very, very, common design for a game, but back then it was
revolutionary. So I created a Paypal account, went to the website and
downloaded a Java executable that I prayed was not a virus in disguise.
I still have that very first map, so I can visit that first place I spawned, an island in the middle of an icy sea. Where I dug down into the island to hide from the zombies that first night, where I burned wood planks in a furnace for light because I had not found coal in time before the sunset. There are these moments in gaming, moments that you know are special because you will only ever play them once. You can only do the suicide mission in Mass Effect 2 once, you can only be hit by the KOTOR swerve once, and you can only have your first terrifying night in Minecraft once. It is that fear of the unknown, the sounds of the zombies, and what is that hiss.
Most of the beginning of my time in Minecraft was spent on that one map,
which I didn’t realise when I started was an odd map design type. It was a map
where it constantly snowed, ice would always freeze, and good luck getting any
sort of farming not that there was much of that at the start. I didn’t realise
that this was odd at the start and by the time I did I was sort of committed to
it. So I created a story for myself, I was trapped on an alien planet and the
only way to survive was to build safe habitats, which meant securing everything
in glass. This was a great story making turn, but it was not the most
productive thing as glass takes a lot of work to make on mass, even when you
work out the ‘sneaking a torch at a bottom of a falling row of sand can harvest
the whole column’ trick. But from that first island, I would spread out and
build hidden caverns, tall fortresses, a mega mob-grinder, and more. This was a
pre-alpha map, back when there was only one type of tree, seeds game from
hoeing grass blocks, and you better like pork or bread because they were your only
food options unless a lucky apple appeared.
I’m not sure what drew me back to the game every time, was it the contemplative music, the clear progression where you made progress each time, the fact that they were adding new things to explore quite often. Eventually, during one of the updates, they discontinued the map type I used and reconverted it to a normal type and I moved from the snow into something a bit more temperate. This would become my main home, my storehouse, and the hub of a growing transport network that stretched kilometres in every direction. It was fun building alone, but I found I wanted more.
Somewhere around this time, the game introduced a multiplayer component
to Minecraft, and while I still kept
up with my single player map, I found more and more the drive to be part of a
building community. I dabbled in a couple of multiplayer maps, some with friends,
some without. While I liked the idea of big multiplayer maps, the reality was
usually you would log off for the day come back and then spend an hour or so
fixing all the damage griefers did while you were gone. However, it was this
time I happened to see an announcement on a YouTube channel that would usher in
the next phase of my Minecraft journey, welcome to the world of Nerdcrafteria.
This was a world where there was an almost free for all mining world, but also a safe place you could come back, sell your goods and build your houses or more. I was there on the first day the server opened, and managed, thanks to a good obsidian economy, to snag a house on the exclusive Lighthouse Point. It was a time where I had some of the greatest moments in the game but also some of the biggest lows.
It was nice to be part of a community, to get to know people a world away, hop on and have people know who you are. It was the kind of place where you could make your own story and so I did. I became the unofficial mayor of a transient town that would appear each week when the mine world reset. We called it Edge Town because to get to it, you had to take a highway (to protect you from mobs) to the edge of the map. Each week the map would reset and I would be there building a new road, people would help, tunnels would surprise appear in upcoming mountains, and torches would be deployed. Soon a competition was incorporated at the end of the road and Edge Town would take on its own life. All in all, I think we had well over 150 competitions ranging from simple builds like wooden houses to more grandiose dragons.
During this time, I also built the most intricate build I had even attempted. I’m not sure how I came across the floor plans for the Salisbury Cathedral, but I knew in an instant that I wanted to recreate it. So, I started, and soon it was incorporated into a new town that was being built in the main server. Lake Town as the name would suggest was built around a lake and one of its many landmarks was the big cathedral. I became one of the members of the town council and even the source of one of the town’s mythologies when I decided to but an Iron Blocks on each of the new town plots welcoming people from the Iron Block Fairy. It would become the source of my greatest pride as I worked to make the Cathedral as great as possible with new additions. But it would not last, players would move on, and soon I was the only one of the original town council left. The town was put back into moderator control and then one day I received word that the cathedral would be removed because it broke some server rules. Hundreds of hours of work gone in an instant, so the cathedral that had stood on the map since almost the very start now only exists in YouTube videos that tour the old server. As with many things in the digital space, even the old server itself did not last, having to be rebuilt after one too many updates interfered with the maps integrity.
Looking back my time on Nerdcrafteria that lasted form its first day up
until its latest change of hands to a new team, was a time filled with so much
joy, but also tinged with sadness. I made a lot of good friends, but then when
you don’t see them every odd day you sort of disappear from each other. The
many, many hours I put into the Edge Town Highway were kind of like a Buddhist
sand painting, only meant to exist for a short amount of time, but now I wonder
was it all worth it. After all this, I felt burnt out by Minecraft and I took a
long break. Only recently have I gotten back into the game as some friends started
up a new map, a place to rebuild a place to explore the new corals, bamboo, pandas,
and so many turtles.
In the end, it is a wonder to think that the game I once bought back in the day from this odd Swedish development studio is now one of the most played games in the world. There are people playing it today who were not born when it first came out. There are so many stories about people’s time in the game that mine is just one of the millions. But on this 10th anniversary, I look back at something that has given me such joy and also some sadness, and I have to say that this was probably the best $10 I have ever spent. What are your Minecraft stories? Let me know in the comments below.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow
Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV,
he’ll be talking about International Relations,
or the Solar System.
Have you played Minecraft?, let us know what you thought in the comments below, feel free to share this review on any of the social medias and you can follow us Here. Check out all our past reviews and articles Here, and have a happy day.
Game Designer – Jens Bergensten
Game Creator – Markus Persson
Music – Daniel Rosenfeld
Developer – Mojang
Publisher – Microsoft