Another Morning in Minecraft


Minecraft, Mojang, 2009 

From The Bygone Bureau:

I sometimes carry with me the lack of a house I once lived in. Picture a house on a mountainside in the jungle overlooking the ocean. Picture a little girl peeing off of the second floor balcony every morning; claiming the world for her own. Now take the house away. Change the girl so that she faces the world from inside a room with the door closed and the YouTube Taylor Swift channel blaring. She could be in that room for hours while I retire to my computer, re-creating our old house in Minecraft, placing a waterfall on the balcony, trying to fill the emptiness with an approximation.

I was born in Minecraft alone and without defense. Browse the nerd-ecomiums about this game and you will find that everyone has a narrative about how they survived their first day. It is a powerful experience to be cast into Minecraft‘s blocky paradise without direction or preparation. On my first day, I thought the game was about punching pigs. So I punched pigs. Then night fell and a demon, kind of like a Hong-Kong hopping vampire, crept toward me in my loneliest loneliness and exploded, saying (at least in my narrative): “This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more.” In other words: respawn or quit to title.

Another morning in Minecraft and with the help of fan-made survival manuals I am now equipped to survive the nightly night of the demons. Safety ensured, I must climb my pyramid of needs toward Minecraftian self-actualization. But what is that, exactly? What do I do now? In Minecraft, as in Sartre, existence really does precede essence. There is no goal, no point, no reason at all in this godless universe for playing Minecraft. But then, there is no point to playing with blocks either. There are things you can do with blocks. There are things you can do in Minecraft. You can find an elusive saddle in an underground monster lair and use it to ride a pig. But you don’t get anything — no badge or narrative or points to spend at an online store — for riding a pig. Pig riding is an end in itself. When you have accomplished it, that is simply how you chose to live your Minecraft life. Quit to title. You are your life and nothing else, pig rider.

“Fear and Gaming”, Jonathan Gourlay, The Bygone Bureau