Minecrafting Who You Really Are

Finally had the chance to fire up the much updated Minecraft in Survival Multiplayer this evening. Since I last played in that world it has gained the dubious benefit of having monsters roaming around and aiming to kill you. I guess that’s a good thing… no, it is, really. It’s intense.

While playing around in the early stages of the game (crafting initial tools, first search for coal, etc.) with Rilla, and then with Chad, I had the opportunity to observe some of my personality traits as reflected in Minecraft. So, only slightly tongue in cheek, I have come to feel that it’s actually kind of an interesting way to learn about yourself. I offer you three things I learned.

Getting cosy. I like nothing more than to stay at home. Once Rilla and I had found coal and thus made torches to light up the darkness, we immediately made a little house, gave it a door and then… stayed there. Seriously, once we had the house, we barely left again except little mini forays out when it was daytime. There was a very real sense of wanting to just stay inside. Just like real life!

Getting organised. I’m kind of anal about being super organised. With Rilla, we’d had a pretty enforced rhythm of laying low when it got dark, not venturing too far. When Chad came on, he almost immediately wanted to set out for a walk. At the time all I’d given him was a stone sword. As I trailed after him, I muttered to myself about not being prepared enough for this, worrying about it getting dark with no torches, and generally fretting about our lack of planning. It was a visceral feeling of dread about not having thought things through.

Getting lost. I swear I’m better in real life, but in Minecraft my spatial sense is just appalling. So the other thing about trailing after Chad was that I swiftly became utterly lost. As in, almost the instant I can’t see where the house is, I don’t know where anything is. This is to be contrasted with Chad who has an awesome sense of space in the game and can generally find his way home from anywhere (this may be connected with his work as a virtual world builder, of course). I actually get quite stressed out about getting lost in Minecraft, so when Chad eventually died during the night that soon fell (and that we were unprepared for), I felt genuinely scared about it. (With good reason, since I was chased by spiders, shot at by skeletons, and blown up by a creeper fairly soon after.)

All of these reactions to the world of the game are something about me personally, I feel them much more deeply than just some “ha ha but it’s just a game” reaction. Part of what makes the game great for me is the way it feels like it’s another place to live. Minecraft is a world in a way that I haven’t really seen elsewhere…

It lets me be myself.

(A scared man with a pickaxe and no sense of direction.)

11 December 2010
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