If you were like me as a child then you loved the thought of adventures... I am not speaking of stuff like traveling alone to school but REAL adventures, we used to find our non-standard ways to school, secret passages filled with monsters, ways no adult would know... or like to go because they were ridden with dogpoop and alcoholics (as the beerbottles could have told us if we were more realistic). But it didn't matter. I was even more fascinated by such stuff, when I was going by subway I always used to ask myself if these tunnels really were just going straight through the city or if there were connections to other tunnels, could you actually go deep down underground here? Would you get lost? Such things. Now there is a game that actually caters for the wish of exploration, its called Minecraft.
The basic idea is simple, Minecraft generates a random world with each go, looking very block and not really that pretty though it has its charme. We start out with virtually nothing, set to explore this 3D world (which, I again say it, is random. Every game is different). After we have orientated ourselves quickly we are going to harvest some basic resources to build us some tools from. Lucky for us we do not need an axe to bring down trees, so we hack happily away until we put the tree into handy little blocks. Through the inventory we can refine this wood and build us a workbench which is very important. With this workbench now we can construct some basic wooden tools to get along, a shovel, a pickaxe... there are quite a few of those waiting to be constructed with the right materials.
If we are lucky we find coal which is badly needed to make torches (I have played several games without finding it) because as soon as the sun sets its dark. Yes I am not joking! And with darkness another element of this game kicks in: Baddies! There are skeletons and zombies roaming the map at night, waiting to kill a careless explorer... so we dig or build us a little shelter which we can light up with our homemade torches, temporarily or permanently. As the game progresses we need to dig deeper to gather rare ores, iron, diamonds... etcetera. There are secrets and dangers waiting below the ground, cavesystems to explore, things to be constructed.
Minecraft is a sandbox game, no scratch that, Minecraft is THE sandbox game! It was never so exciting to dig around in the dirt in a game as it is here. There are no set goals other then not to get killed and explore but it does not matter here. If you hate the thought of being chased by zombies or exploding... things... (that cooincidentally look like green male private parts) then you can set the difficulty to "Peaceful" and there you go. If we want more action, turn the difficulty screw up. Its all up to us. The real interesting part though is the exploring and building element, finally we can explore cavesystems, channel water, search for wealth and fortune, do all the things we dreamed of as children. It might not be the next Gears of War but its something better: A game that actually makes you use your imagination. And we do need more of such games.