Crafting A Thought Experiment

It’s my day off, and I don’t feel like thinking about work any more than I have to. So I’m going to write about something I haven’t talked about in a while: Minecraft!

Unsurprisingly, I go through periods where I don’t play Minecraft much, only to stumble across something that makes me want to play it again. This can be problematic, since I have a number of other games/books/projects/chores I’d like to play/read/work on/complete. But whatever. It’s my day off, and my only task today is to not feel guilty about slacking off.

This time, it was this week’s episode of Extra Credits that piqued my interest. In it, they talked about how every once in a while a game will come around, often out of nowhere, and completely alter the course of gaming culture and history. This is often observable through the number of clones that crop up after a game’s success (Mario, Doom, GTA, etc.). But interestingly enough that doesn’t seem to be happening as much with Minecraft. But what it is doing is sowing the seeds of gaming in the younger generation, and those seeds may be very different than what has blossomed so far.

I touched on a similar issue last year. Gamers of my generation are ones that grew up on reflex-based games. Mario games, for all their colorful graphics and cute sound effects, often required pixel-perfect accuracy. It’s the reason so many people can probably play World 1-1 of Super Mario Bros. with their eyes closed, why “Nintendo Hard” is a thing. And as we’ve aged and moved into the industry, this background influences what kind of games we continue to play and make. Extra Credits mentioned that this may inform some of the popularity of the first-person shooter genre, and I have to agree with them.

Minecraft, by contrast, is a much more methodical experience. It takes time to accomplish things, and instant gratification most definitely isn’t the name of the game. What will happen as people who were exposed to gaming in this format begin to express themselves creatively? Will it make gaming more open for those who didn’t develop their fast-twitch hand-eye coordination as children? It made me think of my girlfriend and people like her, who didn’t start gaming until later in life. I have to wonder if a less reflex-based entry to gaming might look less intimidating.

It’s really is an interesting question: what will gaming look like when targeted (and created by) at a generation that grew up with a less reflex-based background? I know I’m definitely of the “reflex” generation, but even I occasionally feel like playing something more relaxing. I for one would not decry the wider variety of gaming experiences this would afford.

Now, if I can just avoid getting sucked into TV Tropes long enough to scratch that Minecraft itch…