The New Genre Of Minecraft Games - What Are They?
Minecraft Games - A New Era
If you've haven't heard of the Minecraft games craze you must have been hiding on another planet. Not only is Minecraft an extremely popular sandbox building game it's everywhere in the media and regularly makes appearances within popular culture.
You've got song parodies, entire YouTube channels, physical merchandise and much more all dedicated to a single game. So how exactly did Minecraft reach this point of popularity and what are the games like Minecraft being created after it adding to this new genre?
I'll answer these two questions and more. Having been part of Minecraft since the very early alpha days and having watched my nieces and nephews play it for hours on end you'll find me more than qualified to hold your hand on this journey of Minecraft discovery.
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What Minecraft Looks Like
Minecraft Games - A Brief History
Minecraft was first born in 2009 and with only person working on the games development (Markus Persson, sometimes Notch) it was nearly three years until the full version of the game was released.
With support for purchases all the way through the games life cycle the community was already million strong before its full release though. Personally I got in very early during the alpha stages and best of all that meant a price discount (I only had to pay $10 for Minecraft rather than its normal $20 price tag now).
The game has evolved significantly since those early days when I started playing, a time when even animals weren't in the game and it was entirely a sandbox style experience focused solely on building. These days Minecraft has it all from an Ender Dragon to a large (and dedicated) modding community to ensure a new adventure is always available.
While sandbox games of today are often referred to as Minecraft Games it's only fair to pay homage to the game that inspired originally to create Minecraft which was Infiniminer.
The Elements That Make A Minecraft Game
There are many elements that go into creating the perfect game, many developers have come close but just as many have missed the mark completely. So what are the elements that I think go into a Minecraft game? For me it comes down to sandbox, crafting and survival. These three elements are what makes a game similar to Minecraft.
These days there are literally hundreds of Minecraft games and don't get me wrong they do add their own feel to the sandbox genre that Minecraft made popular these aren't simple clones, I simply like calling them Minecraft games.
Minecraft Even Inspires Real World Creations (Like Cake!)
Minecraft Games - Sandbox
For me the number one thing that defines a Minecraft game is a sandbox environment. This sandbox element has multiple aspects to it but most important it is the freedom to play the game in the way that you want.
This freedom means that you can adventure alone, team up with friends, focus on building, go on an adventure, build a house, build a ship and much more. By having choice a game creates much more longevity to the whole experience and it means that you aren't bogged down by features that you don't want to explore.
For example in Minecraft I've never hard the creative bug so I don't touch on the building aspect, choosing to focus on adventures instead.
Minecraft Games - Crafting
Crafting is just as important as the sandbox elements in Minecraft games. But how do you define crafting? For me I consider crafting to involve a few elements.
Crafting is just as much about the collection of resources as it is the turning items into higher grade materials or equipment. Minecraft did this perfectly with a great pace to crafting that had you working with wooden tools, then stone and eventually iron. Making it to the next level of diamond though was always fun and challenging giving you that big jump in mid to late game power that really made the Minecraft experience for me.
I also think that Minecraft did quite well in ensuring that resources always had a use and reducing the need to solely farm resources, everything in the game world could be acquired at a decent rate (apart from diamond!)
I simply cannot consider a game to be similar to Minecraft without a robust crafting system behind it that lets you transform materials into mighty weapons, protective armour or higher grade materials with other uses.
Minecraft Games - Survival
The final piece of the puzzle that makes a game like Minecraft though is the survival elements which again come in two parts; battling the elements and fighting monsters.
Fighting the elements comes in all sorts of ways from the lava that can kill you quickly to the potential to drown in water or starve to death without food. Players have to carefully consider the environment and their supplies on every adventure in Minecraft and it's a feature that I absolutely love above all else.
The fighting monsters is also important though, when you love adventure and action games like me you want to constantly feel threatened and that your skills really make the difference between surviving the night or being blown up by a Creeper.
BONUS:Minecraft Games - Modding
I've included this Minecraft games element as a bonus one because I don't consider it a requirement to make a good game like Minecraft. It is however a key to Minecraft's long term and dare I say forever success?
The mod tools available take Minecraft from a sandbox game to an entire sandbox experience with endless skins, maps and full blown mods to alter the gameplay of Minecraft slightly or into something that is completely different and sometimes unrecognisable.
While I'm not talented enough to do any of my own modding because the community is so large I get to enjoy content from others and there is never a shortage of users willing to give feedback to mod creators.
So that's my opinion on Minecraft and the many Minecraft games that have come since, what do you think makes a good Minecraft game and are there that stand above the rest? Be sure to leave a friendly comment below. If you are yet to play Minecraft I strongly recommend that you purchase the game or play Minecraft for free and see for yourself first hand what the game has to offer.
Images on this page are either provided by the respective developers or are my own images from the game. They are used solely for review and identification purposes.
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