Minecraft, Beyond Construction and Survival
journal contributionposted on 23.10.2019, 15:29 by Sean C. Duncan
Minecraft is an alluringly moving target to try to pin down, and so in order to assess how it is “well-played”—well-designed and iteratively well-redesigned, in this particular case—we need to think more broadly about the approach the developers have taken toward the creation of the game in addition to its formal game mechanics. That is, we can’t assess only the design of the game itself, but need to take into account the shifting goals of the game’s designers, what players do with the game, and what the interactions between designer and players mean for the game’s evolution. In this paper, I will begin by outlining the game, briefly tracking its development history through the Alpha and Beta development stages. Then, I’ll isolate the two key player activities within the game—construction and survival—and show how the game’s success can be attributed to the interrelations and tensions between these two activities. Finally, I’ll discuss how Minecraft’s tensions between construction and survival have led it to be seen increasingly more as a gaming platform, one which is overtly afforded by the game’s design and which has led to exciting experiments in games for learning, game play as an instructional space, and games as playgrounds for the exploration of artistic goals.