Minecraft is a sandbox game. It lets you project whatever you want onto your world. In Minecraft, you can build a castle, be the princess, explore the tundra, and fight lava cubes. Minecraft also lets players easily change its gameplay to find themselves, create simple and expansive mods, make safe spaces, do charity fundraisers, and build ludicrously detailed fantasy recreations.
A Way for Personal Discovery
One of the best ways Minecraft is used is for self-exploration and fulfillment. You are spawned into a randomly generated world. You decide what you do next. It’s like you’re given a bunch of puzzle pieces, and it’s up to you to fit them, and there is no one absolute way to put them together. To me a completed puzzle may well be a replica of Machu Picchu, or a wooden mountain home. But that’s just my completed puzzle. Yours may be pixel art, castles, or rainbow wool houses.
Even if your puzzle needs you to get some achievement, Minecraft has just the thing to fill your void. You get nothing for completing them beyond satisfaction of completing them. They are completely optional, and up to you.
Even the various game modes of Minecraft let you decide how to play. You can play Hardcore mode, where you only get one life, and the world deletes itself forever upon your death. While I would never play on this mode, other people would enjoy the challenge and danger this mode represents. And if you want to purely create something, there is Creative mode, where you become god of the world and build without limit. (See above wool house) So as you may imagine, Minecraft is one of the best games to fulfill yourself, because you are allowed to play however you want. (Within code-able limits of course.)
For Inspiring People to Program
One of the things most ingrained in Minecraft culture are mods. The game has one of the most robust modding communities out there. If you want it, there is a mod for it. There are mods for sponges, tech issues, biomes, gameplay add-ons, music, and even marriage.
Modding is has compelled people to improve themselves to learn about the various aspects of game design. There are several guides on the internet for people who want to learn how to code. This inspires people to look into computer programming and create carers in robotics and other science and engineering fields.
Providing Safe Spaces for Bullied People
A great instance of Minecraft letting people be themselves would be Autcraft. This Minecraft server is for people on the Autistic spectrum. To know how nice this is, let’s have a glance at what Autism is and the difficulties those on the spectrum may face.
Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder categorized by persistent problems in social interactions, the presence of repetitive and specific interests, and may come with a whole slew of other issues that include sensitive hearing and general sensory sensitivities. This, by its nature, can make it hugely difficult for those on the spectrum to be a part of social society. Areas such as verbal communication, body language, or even very general social cues that everyone somehow gets, are often completely lost on an autistic person. This means people may feel isolated from the rest of the world, even if they want to be part of it.
This also means it’s so easy to become a target of bullying. Several autistic people have even had trouble on public Minecraft servers.
But Minecraft can help. Autcraft was made for people of the spectrum. The server is a safe space for people to hang out, and avoid the bullying and problems of physical social life. Not only that, but the server is very selective in letting people in, and has an entire process to go through to get in. This lets the admins insure bullies and trolls don’t invade and bully anyone, and make Autcraft as safe and harassment free as possible.
Fundraisers for Charities
People have used Minecraft to help people in other ways. One YouTuber that has been creative in raising money for charity is Kurt J Mac. Kurt has been doing a Minecraft walk-a-thon and raised money for Child’s Play charity. I think the idea of how he’s doing a Minecraft Walk-A-Thon needs some explaining. Let me elaborate!
Basically Kurt is chronicling his journey to the Farlands. This place is where the game’s code goes nuts and the world generation is messed up. (Note: This only applies to earlier versions of Minecraft. As of the latest updates, the Farlands as described was coded out of the game) the structures spawned from this messed world generation looked like sliced up parts of the map. The result is this weird but beautiful structure generation.
Walking to the Farlands would take years to do in real time…and Kurt has been doing it since March 2011 and is continuing his epic walk to this day. He has traveled 2,097,152 blocks and broke the world record for the longest journey in Minecraft last September of 2015. He’s raised over $335,000 for Child’s Play Charity. He’s incredibly awesome, so I hereby grant him an M&M internet cookie (that’s gluten free too):
Intensely detailed Fan Projects
As impressive as all of these are, the one that takes the cake is Westroscraft. This Minecraft server was built in 2011 with one goal in mind: to create a complete and extensive recreation of Westros out of Minercaft blocks. Ever wanted to visit the Watergardens of Dorne? They have that.
Ever want to scale the icy wall? You can do that:
Ever want to fly around the Vale? You also can do that:
Westroscraft is one of the most inspiring servers to be in. People have poured hours of their lives to build this replica. They have analized the books and taken some inspiration from the show to make an as accurate as possible world. The result is an immersive world that is great for helping you understand Westeros; I now have a better understanding of how far away Dorne is from the Wall. (It’s far.)
Further, the culture of the map is great. There’s are two scavengers hunts. One is of them is what I like to call the Booksnob Hunt, where you use your deep and obscure knowledge of the books to find secrect areas. There is also the hidden passages and levers around the world. Like the passage behind the iron throne, and a beautiful easter egg in the bowels of Lannisport’s sewer system.
I highly recommend this server to people who’ve read the books. It will melt your heart to go into the crypts of Winterfell. It will inspire you to see the Isle of Faces. It will terrify you to jump out the Moon Door.
Minecraft is amazing, mostly because of the amazing ways it’s used. Safespaces, charity drives, beautiful recreations, all of these built from on amazing game. I don’t know any other game that has had such diverse uses. You don’t already have Minecraft; I’d definitely suggest it.
Images Courtesy of Mojang AB
Special thanks to a lot of people for inspiring me to make this article and giving me material to work off of and inspire me.
The Gametheory team: https://www.youtube.com/user/MatthewPatrick13
Games as Literature: https://www.youtube.com/user/gamesasliterature
Satchbags Goods: https://www.youtube.com/user/satchbags
Emcee Prophet: https://www.youtube.com/user/EmceeProphIt
Folding Ideas: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCyNtlmLB73-7gtlBz00XOQQ