Monday, December 02, 2013

Graduated Gamer Gave Minecraft A Chance

Everybody loves Minecraft, right? I mean, it’s just such an amazing game that feeds off of people’s creativity to make a truly unique experience every time and depending on who is playing. It’s crisp, easy to pick up, hard to master, and has endless replay value. It’s essentially everything that gamers could possibly want in a game. I certainly love it, and combined with my girlfriend we’ve poured over 200 hours into the Xbox 360 edition. However, I almost didn’t even give this revolutionary game a chance.

Years ago, I recall learning about the beta release of Minecraft. I stumbled upon the game after perusing some gaming site, and I’ll admit that my curiosity was piqued. I was in a transition phase from PC and console gaming to strictly console gaming, so I was still interested in a PC-only game, even if a bulk of my time was spent on the PS2 (it took me a while to switch to the next gen of consoles, judge away).

I gave the game a fair shake in my opinion – or at least as big a one you can give a game without actually playing it. Videos were viewed, previews were read, and purchases were considered. However, this was a much different time in my life than where I’m at now. This was a time when JRPGs and FPS dominated my gaming time – if you couldn’t summon or pull a trigger, I wasn’t interested. I was also a very shallow gamer and looked mainly towards a game’s graphics and pedigree as reasons to either play it or not. But most of all, the game seemed based on a player’s creativity to drive the play and the experience, and the Not-Yet-Graduated Gamer did not consider himself to be a creative person at all.

So, rather than keep it on my radar for later or give the beta a try, I gave it a pass and moved on to the next shooter that was in my library. Years passed and I made the transition to strictly playing consoles. I upgraded from the PS2 to the Wii…which I promptly sold and bought an Xbox 360 (a story for another day, I guess) and life was grand. I eventually became a Graduated Gamer and got a big boy job, which soon sucked out my soul and humanity, prompting me to pursue other careers – this included consideration of dream jobs.

If you want me to play it, you should probably release it on these.

A friend recommended looking into Rooster Teeth, the folks behind Red vs. Blue, as a company to explore for ideas on a future career. I took his advice and start watched a bunch of the Achievement Hunter video series. My girlfriend found the Minecraft series particularly entertaining and encouraged me to consider buying the game. I had to admit that the gameplay looked fun, and the graphics weren’t as bad as I remembered. But the biggest selling point for me was that there was now a 360 edition. Now that I was able to play the game on my medium of choice, there really wasn’t an excuse to try it, especially at only $20. So I took the plunge, found the game fascinating and addictive, and the rest is history.

It’s funny what can influence a gamer’s decisions on what to try, what to buy, and what to ignore completely. Mojang obviously didn’t have to come out with a 360 edition of their award-winning and record-smashing game, what with their huge PC following, but they must have known that there was an untapped market of holdouts like me. I’m certainly glad they did, and also glad that my tastes in video games had matured to a point where I was at least willing to reach outside of my comfort zone and try new genres. Of course, I had known about Minecraft’s popularity, read rave reviews, and heard about friend’s amazing creations in the game, so there was plenty of evidence that this wouldn’t be a wasted purchase.

Regardless, I soon found myself immersed in a truly unique gaming experience. At first I was a bit frustrated with the survival aspect of the game and died quite a few times at the hands of zombies before I was able to get a sufficiently sturdy edifice erected. Still, with a little practice, the game soon opened up and I was able to build insane railways, Sims-esque houses complete with furnishings, and my very own castle with hidden rooms and wolves a la Game of Thrones. I also found that my reservations about my creativity were not a limiting factor in my ability to have fun in the game. In fact, the game could be played with meticulous planning and trial-and-error just as well as it could with spontaneous imagination. My experience was also heightened by playing with my girlfriend on split-screen, because she’s the artistic one in the relationship and I could help her build her amazing creations. It was a match made in gaming heaven, and I was hooked.

Our castle is better than it isn't.

I consider this a learning lesson for the way I view games now and in the future. I’ve learned over the years that gaming tastes are extremely subjective, from the passing fanboy to the most “expert” of reviews; it all really boils to opinion. Many people stay away from games with “low” scores or that don’t fit into their personal favorite genres. However, I believe that gamers should at least create informed opinions about the games they choose to ignore, otherwise we’re (almost) no better than all the fanboys out there. I’m certainly glad that I gave Minecraft a chance, because it not only expanded my gaming horizons, but it helped me realize that my skills and tastes in gaming were not just relegated to my old pre-conceived notions. Over a year and 200+ hours of gameplay later, it’s one of the best $20 purchases I’ve ever made.


  1. I think you just alienated yourself from your audience with that "girlfriend" bit.

    1. Do tell ...... why would you say that?

    2. Haha, I must say that having a girlfriend and being a gamer isn't as difficult as people might think. However, finding a woman that will not only tolerate your gaming but also play them with that's the tricky part! Sometimes, you get lucky and find the princess before you reach the final castle. ;-)


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