Minecraft Jacks An 8-Bit Pick-Ax Into Your Brain

This, then, is Minecraft.

Imagine a game where you build with LEGO.

You have 13 minutes to do so.

Sure, you can waste those 13 minutes building spaceships or funny statues.

But you’d damn well better spend that time building a shelter. Because at the end of those 13 minutes?

Night comes.

And when night comes, so do the monsters.

And if you haven’t built yourself a place to hide? You’re dead.

Welcome to LEGO: Survival Horror edition.

My First Day Cycle

The game dropped my ass onto a sandy beach at morning. Not far away I saw them: great and mighty hills — hills comprising voxels of dirt, grass, and stone — rising up out of the fog.

I figured, hey, let’s explore. I wandered up into those hills. I chopped down a tree for shits and giggles. And by “chopped,” I mean, “punched with my blocky orange dildo hand until the tree yielded its sweet sweet tree meat to my violence.” The tree, mysteriously, hovered there even when its base was destroyed. (Destroy its canopy and you may find yourself with a sapling in hand.)

Then I wandered some more. I witnessed voxel sheep and boxy chickens. Clunky cows be-bopped around. In the distance, out in the ocean, big Cthulhu-beard squid jerked and twitched.

I wandered across chasms.

I found a lake, and half of that lake was ice.

I almost drowned, but then learned how to swim.

Somewhere, I thought, “Hey, I’m going to dig. Just to see.” So, with a hunk of wood in my hand, I began bashing the earth. My first mistake? The first several blocks, I bashed beneath my feet. Clarification: directly beneath my feet. I dropped down into a pit of my own making but thought, “I can get back out of here easily given how simple it is to bash earth into its component bits and bytes.”

So, I kept digging. This time, at an angle.

Eventually, my tunnel grew dark. No light shone down here.

I started trying to make my way back up, but I noticed something:

The sun had gone down.


I began furiously punching and kicking the ground, making steps to get back out, but it was futile: I couldn’t really see anything. I didn’t know if I was even going up.

Then, I heard it: a phlegmy growl.

Little did I know, someone was down here with me. Suddenly, my screen filled with some awful face, and then a zombie murdered me and sucked marrow from my bones.

Well, I don’t know that those are the exact details. Mostly, I died in the dark, a zombie atop me.

Second Day Cycle

I respawned back on my beach. I thought, okay, I need to build a shelter this time.

So, instead of digging down, I dug laterally — boring into the side of the hill like a worm toward the apple’s heart. I bashed a tunnel, then a small room. When night came, I sealed myself into it.

And it was very dark.

Behind me, something growled.

Next thing I know, some monster was molesting my dead flesh.

Third Day Cycle

Fuck. Fuck. I figured, okay, I have to learn to survive here, or this just isn’t going to work. I watched the “first night tutorial” found on the Minecraft site. And by watching that, I learned a truckload of information that would help me not get mouth-raped by skeletons, spiders, zombies, and creepers. I needed a pick-ax. And a workbench. And a sword. And a shovel. And, above all else, I needed some motherfucking torches.

Thing is, to get torches, you need coal.

And on this hill, I found no coal.

I ran around as the big voxel sun slowly slid like a pad of butter toward the horizon’s end, struggling to find some way to make some goddamn light.

I did not find any coal.

Feel free to predict what happened. It probably involves words like “rectal violation,” “monster,” and “used my sweetbreads as pillows.” Goddamnit. Fuck you, coal. Fuck you big.

Fourth Day Cycle

Once more, I spawned on the beach, increasingly convinced that this was some kind of 8-bit nightmare Groundhog Day rehash: this beach was becoming my accursed birthplace into this unsettling world.

I decided, fuck those hills right there, because those hills offer me only death.

I crossed a small oceanic strait and found myself amongst other hills. There, pressed up against the cliff-face, lurked a vein of coal next to a vein of iron. Huzzah! A cheer! But no time for celebration: only time for getting coal so I do not die horribly in the night. I quick did some crafting, ensuring that I got a pick-ax (the pick-ax is necessary to get coal), and I carved myself a uterine pocket of earth. As night fell, I sealed myself into what I prayed would not be my tomb.

Then, I watched night through my window. This is a long process. Night is seven minutes, and there I stood like an asshole, just watching the blinky stars creep across the sky.

I… heard things. Out there. And above me. The hissing of beasts. The rattling of bones. The growls of zombies. Occasionally, I heard a chicken die. Poor goddamn chicken.

But eventually, as it is with all bad things, night passed. The sun arose. Morning arrived.

I kicked open my earthen door, stepped out into the light.

Where I was promptly assaulted by a fucking giant spider.

What the hell, I thought? It’s sun-up! Spiders can survive the sun? Seriously? Oh, goddamnit, they can, can’t they? Shit shit shit. I took my sword out, though, and I whupped up on that blocky fuckface arachnid until all that was left was a tapeworm-esque pile of thread. Which I quickly absorbed into my inventory.

Ha. Hahaha! Hahahaha! I survived the night!

I did a little dance.

Then I went in search of more coal. I turned the corner, and came face to face with this blockhead asshole who promptly blew himself up.

He took half the cliff-face with him.

Oh, and me.

Death welcomed me anew.

Fifth Day Cycle

The beach belched me back up onto its sun-baked sands. Once again I crossed the strait, knowing that yes, I would find my little grotto, but that all my equipment was lost.

Except, it wasn’t.

I rounded the bend and there, along the cliff-face and in the water were my blessed items: the ax, the blade, the building materials I had been carrying. I quickly swept them all up. I kissed my sword, which is not a euphemism for masturbation or self-performed blow-jobbery.

To celebrate, I murdered some cows. Which lead to the discovery that cows yield leather.

Chickens yield eggs.

I also found, mysteriously, bones and arrows. (No, not bows and arrows. Bones.) I guess some skeleton archers had a raucous party or something and… uhhh, exploded? Who the fuck knows? And really, who cares? Because now I have their bodies. Ho ho ho.

Once more, night came.

I hid. I dug more. I waited. Night came. Night went. Morning arose, and so did I, resurrected from my tomb. I heard the hissing of a spider, and I fucked that fucker up with my pixel-blade.

I was triumphant.


During the day, I explore. At night, I dig.

I’ve since dug myself a small labyrinth connected to my little hut. I found an underground stream. I found a cavern, too, but I sealed that back up, because I suspect that giving the sinister malefactors and undead interlopers a back-door entry into my zone of safety and comfort is bad news bears.

I carved myself a path all the way from the opening to the other side of the island. So now I have two exits and entryways if I need them. All of them lined with torches.

I don’t know what happens now. I keep building. I keep crafting.

And somehow, I stay alive.

Later in the week I might mumble about the things I think make Minecraft… well, not great, but certainly interesting. I mean, I did all of the above in an hour, maybe an hour-and-a-half. Not a serious time commitment, but it felt epic. So, I have thoughts in that direction, but I need to play a little more and put them together. Anyone else play? Anyone do anything with multiplayer yet? I’ve only noodled with the one-man-world and found it surprisingly unsettling. I grow fascinated.

(Want a great fan-made trailer to sell you on Minecraft? I’ve embedded it below.)

23 responses to “Minecraft Jacks An 8-Bit Pick-Ax Into Your Brain”

  1. I started playing earlier this week and it’s very unsettling. I die often but as time goes on I have carved for myself a mighty cavern in which to live, and outfitted it with such comforts as can be had.

    Minecraft usually makes me think of two things. The first: the progression of tool use. Wood to stone to iron and so on to diamonds. And of course some people use redstone to make primitive computers and circuits.
    The second is that it is perhaps the best demonstration of what mankind does once it has removed the threat of death. The first nights are spent tunneling and making tools to survive with. After that comes a period of improving the conditions (better tools, a freestanding house instead of a dank cave), and then comes expansion and creation. Cities in miniature, torch lined castles, the USS Enterprise, giant golden pyramids. Once the threat of the monsters has become minimized by the forces of fire and civilization we build monuments. And not to people but simply to see if we can do it.

  2. My brother is into Minecraft and I’m into Dwarf Fortress. Which, while they differ in gameplay significantly, are basically about the same thing: die, die and die again while trying to tame a wild, mountainous land. And the dieing is actually fun.

    • @Paul —

      Curiously, it’s not… that addictive?

      For me, at least, it’s more a fascinating curiosity. I played it for like, 10 minutes last night, accomplished a lot, and then stopped. It doesn’t have that NEXT LEVEL GRIND GRIND GRIND thing going on. Easier to set your own pace, I think?

      — c.

  3. I poked around with an earlier version? A demo? I don’t know, but it wasn’t the full game. This was a while ago and I got bored fast. Of course all I could figure out was digging and breaking down trees and after 10 minutes my brain went in a diffent direction.

    Keep meaning to check it out again, but just haven’t gotten there yet. Had no idea there’s a multiplayer. Will grab a copy and take another look.

  4. Beard!
    Son-in-law made us aware of this game about a month ago. We have a server and the whole household is playing it as well as some friends. I play it occasionally when I can, my daughter and son-in-law treat it as a calling. (Son-in-law has cooked up a perpetual motion engine so we can take a minecart back from the new shifted spawn point. Amazing to behold!)
    My self appointed task is reaping the wheat and making bread as well as putting columns with torches over the continent with safe houses if anyone goes outside and gets lost. (Did it a couple of times and I wanted a tether!)
    http://www.minecraftwiki.net/wiki/Main_Page Has almost if not all the recipes. New ones came out this week.
    Insanity perpetrated here – son-in-law caught an entire forest on fire. It will burn forever.
    NEVER plant trees one square apart. Turned into a death forest overnight.
    Bad things spawn in the dark. Including shade. Shade will keep the sun from putting skeletons and zombies to the fire. Spiders can now climb!
    I love that you can play for a few minutes or a few hours and just stop. Super casual game.
    All Creepers must DIE! (I love love love my bow and arrows!) Heh heh.

  5. I love this game. I almost gave up at the start with gameplay that was suspiciously similar to your descriptions above, except that rectal violations hadn’t occurred to me.

    The dark corners where the monsters hide also are the locations for some of the richest veins of ore. Definitely worth exploring.

  6. Yup, I play Minecraft, quite enjoy it, play it in ten minute bites usually. I normally play on the ‘Hard’ difficulty, and occasionally decide to NOT dig and see how long I survive.

    My brother and I also run a multiplayer server. It’s fun playing with others, when you’re actually playing together. Usually it feels like a one player game where you end up crossing the remnants of your buddies structures while they’re logged out. Still really cool.

  7. I’ve played Minecraft for several months now, and let me tell you this: as hard as singleplayer is, survival multiplayer will fuck your shit up.

    There is, of course, creative multiplayer, where you can just dick around and build things to your heart’s content. It is a glorious place where one need never fear their vast creations being destroyed by some suicidal green guy, because that suicidal green guy doesn’t exist. When I first started playing, that’s all there was, and I played it with feverish delight, because I could build whatever the hell I wanted and nothing would happen to it. Giant roller coaster? Pac Man? Penis made out of wool? Our creative server had all those things. Then… then survival multi rolled out.

    I got blown up so much. I was shot with arrows until I was knocked off of cliffs. I fell into lava. I did not find coal for days and days. Fortunately, I had friends with better luck, and they offered me some of their coal, as good friends do. Then I made a rudimentary safehouse, and we hunkered down for the night.

    Come morning… http://bit.ly/gpxYys

  8. I adore Minecraft. The single-player mode is compulsively eerie and beautiful, and has a cumulative nihilism that reminds me of reading a bunch of HP Lovecraft stories in one sitting. The further you go, the more bleak and unsettling it becomes.

    Multiplayer is where it shines for me, though. As soon as you have other people involved, particularly ones you know, it gains a competitive edge. You want to build something more uber — taller, prettier, more labyrinthine, geekier, whatever — than your friends. It’s almost pure creativity too, leavened with a dash of exploration. Group efforts to build something stunning are also wonderful. How often do we get the chance to just _play_, in such a pure way? Public servers are still messy, thanks to the griefer 14yr-olds, but private servers are just joyful.

  9. @chuck — One may have a look at http://servers.minecraftforum.net/

    One may also DM me for the details of the server in play on in the UK if one wishes — I have an invite slot — noting that we have damage and monsters turned off on our server, so you still have to find resources, but you’re not at risk. Easier to build, but possibly less, ah, ‘thrilling’. 🙂

  10. I’ve been playing for a few months. I put it down, then pick it up again and try to accomplish a new gargantuan task. Everything in Minecraft is a learning curve for me. Hearing about portals to the nether I wanted to find one… except there were none to be found… then I read that I had to *build* one… that required obsidian… which was made from Lava… you can imagine how that worked out the first try.

    You described my first experience with the game pretty much to a tee, and it had me addicted. Two servers later I was building a castle and stacking trees to create an elven forest around it. Then under my fortress I built a trap which I can sit in the middle-of and the bad monsters slide helpless to me on conveyor belts of water to drown in a pit and then float their dropped goodies to me. This is a handy way to gather TNT – which is a (slightly) more efficient way to mine for Diamonds.

    The thing about Minecraft for me, is that it’s format is what I wish more MMORPG’s were incorporating. MMO’s do their in-game stories, but they’re’s not horribly immersive, so most rely on teamplay that I liken to a digital sports team. WoW does this sports-esque stuff particularly well, and it’s because of that I credit it with attracting a lot of people who wouldn’t traditionally play those sorts of video games.

    But I don’t want to play a game that functions like sports, if I wanted to play sports, I’d play motherfucking SPORTS and work off some of this Christmas camel hump sprouting from my front-end. So I see Minecraft as a neat way for players to craft their own stories in the spaces between the canon cities of the game world, and that to me seems far more compelling then running errand so Dipsy-doo the canon messenger of the Big King Hamsterbrain will like you enough to give you the quest to kill his annoying arch nemesis…

  11. “During the day, I explore. At night, I dig.”

    Perfect first line, that. In fact, everything from “During the day…” to “…somehow, I stay alive.” would be guaranteed to make readers turn to page two.

  12. I play. Oh boy do I play. Have a server, too. I find it both addictive and not. Once I start playing I’m going to play for hours. But when I’m not playing I don’t have an overwhelming urge to pick it back up.

    You’re welcome on our server, but for obvious reasons I don’t want to post the IP here. Send me an email if you want to join, though. We have enemies on, and technically PvP damage on, but you won’t get attacked if you join.

  13. I play on an SMP server attached to a site for Metafilter gamers, and smp beats the hell out of sp for me. We’ve built a couple of cities; you can see a picture of one, Porkton, in this article: http://www.crunchgear.com/2011/01/15/a-brief-explanation-of-why-minecraft-matters/

    (I built a couple of things in that picture, and actually built another thing since that picture was taken- one of the empty lots now houses a Platform Jumping Adventure.)

    Have you played on Peaceful yet? It disables the mobs and gives you health regen. On the occasions I play sp (not that often unless I don’t have internet), I like to take a couple of daycycles of Peaceful to get myself established.

  14. I’ve been playing single player on the peaceful setting, so no bad guys attack me and I can build and explore as I wish. Right now I’m building a mansion on a floating island in the sky.

  15. I’ve found I have more luck finding non-surface coal than surface coal. But then, I’m also the type who would prefer to live below the ground than on or above it.

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