Why Your Kids Are Still Talking About Minecraft 5 Years Later

by David Moench

Image: Spread from Minecraft: Exploded Builds: Medieval Fortress

Five years ago this month, Minecraft 1.0 was officially released for download. Who would have guessed that a video game about blocks would become one of the biggest gaming phenomena of all time? Although the game has been enjoyed by adults all over the world since its release, many parents have seen their children obsessing over Minecraft for just as long. But why are kids so enthralled by this game, even years after they first started playing?

The simple answer: Minecraft is many different things to many different people. It’s a playground for the artist, architect, engineer, and computer programmer, where imagination is the limit when it comes to building whatever they want. It can be both social and solitary, relaxing and invigorating. It’s fun and also educational. It’s a vast place to explore, where players can venture into great, unknown worlds, climbing mountains and crossing oceans. Or they can be stranded on a desert island, and test their survival skills with only the most basic resources. In short, Minecraft is whatever you want it to be!

It’s for the creative type.
Minecraft’s versatility is largely due to its simple three-dimensional block design. These blocks come in a multitude of different colors and textures, and they turn Minecraft into a virtual artist’s palette. Huge sculptures of fantastic beasts, giant portraits reminiscent of a Chuck Close painting, even monumental reproductions of the Mona Lisa have all been built in Minecraft. The same blocks allow for the architect in all of us to ignore the laws of physics, and just build what we dream. Nearly everything conceivable (and inconceivable) has been built in Minecraft, from quaint cottages and farms, to towering castles and floating cities.

It’s for the loner and the social butterfly.
Although it takes one person to play Minecraft, the game is only solitary if you want it to be. Few games in history have built a worldwide community of players as big and diverse. There are many ways that players come together in Minecraft. One way is to create your very own world in the game using the “Realms” feature. Players can then invite friends to join them online, where everyone can compete in races, capture-the-flag, and puzzles of all sorts. Or they can simply build and explore the world together. And of course, if you just want to get away from it all, you can shut out all of the noise from the outside world and tend to your flock of sheep without any interruptions.

It’s for the chill- and thrill-seeker.
Minecraft has two main game modes to choose from: Creative and Survival. On Creative mode, players can build to their heart’s desire without any scarcity or threat. They can fly around their worlds, break any block with one click of the button, and never worry about getting hurt. The meditative background music in the game, playing while you watch the sun rise over a field of flowers, can make this game a very relaxing experience. However, if you are up for some adventure, you can play on Survival mode and use those idyllic days to prepare for a terrifying night of roaming zombies, skeletons, and spiders. Search for food and resources, build a shelter to hide in, and watch for other players who may want to take your precious hoard of gold and diamonds.

Image credit: Mojang
Image credit: Mojang

It’s for the beginner and the gaming wizard.
Every skill level has its rewards. It’s easy to learn the basics in Minecraft, but any player can delve deeper into incredibly complex designs. The beginner can get a sense of accomplishment simply by placing a door on their first dirt hovel. The advanced player can tackle the game’s Redstone system, and make use of their degrees in advanced circuitry to create complicated contraptions to ensnare other players, or design their own puzzle games for their friends to enjoy.

It’s always new!
Minecraft can be modified, which opens up huge possibilities and leads many players to dabble in the basics of coding and programming. Mojang, the company behind Minecraft, also releases regular updates to the game, to keep it fresh and exciting.

All of these reasons together make Minecraft one of the most versatile games ever, which keeps players coming back time and again to build, explore, design, compete, socialize, and create to the far limits of their imagination. Minecraft really does have something for everyone!

For tips and tricks on how to play on Survival mode, check out Minecraft: The Survivor’s Book of Secrets. For inspiration on building a castle in Creative or Survival mode, check out Minecraft: Exploded Builds: Medieval Fortress.