Let it be known that we love indie games – they’re a great alternative to the same old linear brown shooters that every major developer religiously cranks out these days. That said, people are way too quick to overlook an indie game’s faults just because it wasn’t produced by EA. Minecraft’s meteoric rise to indie stardom has made Markus “Notch” Persson a multimillionaire and established Minecraft as one of the most successful indie games ever made.
But we’re not concerned with success here. We’re concerned with hating…
Art by Alex Barrett
Remember Pogs and Hypercolor shirts? These things were fads, novelty products that exploded into popularity and sold millions – seemingly overnight – but were forgotten almost as quickly. The internet has multiplied fad phenomenons a million fold, and thanks to viral videos of user generated content spread via congregate sites like Reddit, Minecraft blew up big. Little did most gamers eager to jump on the bandwagon know that those cool BioShock level recreations likely took groups of people hundreds of hours to create, not including the long process of even figuring out how to play the damn game.
Belying its seemingly simple interface is the cold fact that Minecraft is impenetrable without the Minecraft Wiki. With no tutorial or direction to speak of, Minecraft is unplayable without a browser window open to the wiki so you can figure out what’s possible. I realize that to some people, wandering around and arduously grinding blocks for hours trying to see what random combination of stuff actually does something is fun, but these are the same people who enjoy meticulously micromanaging resource acquisitions and maintaining Excel spreadsheets for their EVE Online accounts.
While we appreciate open-ended games, there’s a difference between having some structure and having none at all. Minecraft stretches the term “game” to its absolute limit. Giving the player a sandbox with no goals is a lot like renaming Microsoft Paint “Art Quest” and claiming it’s the most creative videogame ever made. Minecraft is less a game than it is a digital LEGO box for OCD man-children. The fact that the vast majority of popular Minecraft vids are little more than tributes to videogame characters or internet memes isn’t shocking given the fanbase. What is shocking is the insane amount of time invested in things like making a tribute to the flash-in-the-pan “Deal With It” dog.
Being a completely open-ended game with no real goals or purpose, Minecraft relies on the player to find interesting things to do. This usually boils down to “Build a big house and maybe tunnel into the depths” or “Make it to the Nether and kill a Ghast.” Outside of that, I hope you enjoy grinding for colored blocks and then putting them together forever, because that’s all you’ll be doing here. Having to waste your precious time, creative spark and effort on making a game entertaining seems like a lot of effort for something that’s ultimately little more than a cutely styled plaything.
Inspiration for creating music, paintings, sculptures or whatever else is fleeting… it only comes once in a while. So what possible reason is there for you to waste your spark/drive spending 300 hours building a 400-foot tall facsimile of the Reddit guy? Other than pandering to Reddit users for up-votes, of course. Congrats, your hard work has made another viral video to promote the game, more advertising dollars for Reddit and helped Notch acquire yet another solid gold house and rocket car.
Apr 27, 2011
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