Well, I’ve finally done it. It took almost 30 years, and when you multiply that by 365 it equals an awful lot of Mammy dinners, but I’ve finally moved out. I must now survive on my own, do things on my own, and accept the consequences of things I’ve done. These consequences which generally extends to me getting fatter from the snacks I’ve bought all by myself and the portion sizes I give myself. I can’t blame anyone else for anything that goes wrong. Well, strictly speaking that’s not true – it ain’t my fault when the Wi-Fi goes south.
You don’t get a field guide for when you move out, you know, it isn’t something they teach you in school. Actually, that’s not strictly speaking true either: you can do a school subject called Home Economics, which’ll give you all the full dope on water, wiring plugs and possibly baking cakes.
Of course, men can’t take a subject like that. No, honestly, for once I’m not being any kind of phobic, I literally didn’t have the chance to do it – my all-boys school didn’t offer it. Not that I’d have selected it anyway – doesn’t metalwork sound so much more manly? Sounds barbaric if you ask me.
So there’s me now, not knowing how to boil an egg, expected to run a house. The missus, bless her, she tries to domsticate me. She asked me to do a wash one time, and I went and put soap on my face. Then she wanted me to dehumidify the room, and I started rubbing a towel everywhere.
It’s just as well I live in a place where nothing seems to happen, touch wood panelling, because if something went bump in the night then who in the hell would deal with it? Not me, surely, I’m not the man of the house. We haven’t got a pet either, so that means my missus must be the man. She’s a dab hand with a shoe horn – again, I’m not sure what that is. I do know I was once shoehorned into the spare room.
Another place where you won’t get a field guide is the big, bad, infinite world of Minecraft. This household name was in my gaming blindspot for quite some time, actually. I somehow missed it becoming the best-selling game of all time – forget your Tetris, no time for Wii Sports, take a hike Super Mario Bros, because Minecraft was digging its way in.
I was first introduced to Minecraft by my cousin, showing me the game on his tablet. I struggled to really get what was going on, and the touch controls did me no favours, so I quickly dismissed it. I didn’t tell him that, obviously – even I don’t want to sneer at young kids. Especially when it’s the Christmas family party, that one regrettable time of the year when you’re obliged to put in an appearance with the outlaws, who are wanted, and the inlaws who are not.
Of course, deep down I made certain to avoid this game in future. I suppose it looked like a virtual Lego, and they never seemed to get Lego games right. You’ve got Lego Star Wars, which is a bit of a laugh in short bursts. But after that it’s just Lego Indiana Jones or Lego Batman or Lego Fifty Shades with a different coat of paint.
Where’s the creativity? Where’s the game that just lets you build whatever you bloody well want in a virtual setting? Something that’s also got a bit of progression, where you start off with the ability to make little more than crappy four-blocks, used to construct rubbish houses that are all off-colour, like when you see those jalopy motors with mismatched doors.
Well, Minecraft is that game. I’m sure that, buried in some menu with tiny writing, there’s a bit of a tutorial to get you going, but otherwise you really are on your own. Well, this is definintely a game for the internet age, as evidenced by the fact there’s a billion videos of Minecraft players out there, sharing their creations and attempting to force a personality. This is where you, the non-convert to Minecraft, will probably have come into contact with the game. Heaven only knows how many people have made a living off playing it on YouTube, although perhaps these days they’ve found that rug swept out from under them.
The scope of a game like Minecraft is far too great to even convey in a piece like this, but suffice to say that this one does exactly what it says on the tin. You mine, you craft. What do you mine? Anything you like in a procedurally generated, practically infinite world. Get down on yor hands and knees to mine yourself some dirt, stone and wood. Then you can use your proceeds to create tools and workbenches and furnaces. Build yourself a house perhaps, then go out and bag more swag to build bigger and better things.
Watch that you get back to your house in good time though, before sundown, because that’s when the zombies and spiders start coming after you. That’s the Survival mode, and to be honest, it’s a bit of a drag playing that one. So why not cheat and use Godmode commands? After all, this is very much the type of game where you make your own goals, and the only limit is your imagination, and dedication.
Thus there’s a dedicated Creative mode, where you can just get stuck into creating, with no need to gather materials or make progressively better tools or any cobblers like that. You can move freely about your own world, like some sort of dreadful omnipotent creature from a horror film.
This brings us neatly onto the second question: what can you craft? And the answer is anything, from your rubbish improvised contraptions made from whatever Lego pieces you could find, right the way up to the Sistine Chapel if you so wish – ceiling willies and all. You really can make whatever you please. People have made computers in Minecraft, for gods sake. I’ve even seen someone fully program Pokémon Red into the game, fully playable.
The building blocks of what you’ll be crafting, mind you, are quite literally that: that blocky cube style that has been done to death in PC and mobile games ever since. Everything is made from blocks, even the animals. God, you do get a bit more used to the graphics as you play, but early doors you’ll want to gouge your own eyes out. It’s the first time in a long time that I actually got motion sickness from a game, but it must just have been old-fashioned nausea instead.
Some “interesting” music direction in Minecraft too, basically silence for the vast majority of your time in the blockworld, although every so often you’ll get a nice little piano sequence, that I’d almost call emotional, even though you’re never quite sure what triggered it.
The real reason why I sat down and played Minecraft, of course, is the same reason why Jules in Pulp Fiction ended up becoming vegetarian – the missus was all about it, so what choice did I have? When I floated the idea of playing a wee game of Miney-C with her, to let her introduce me to this phenomenon, she was only too happy to have a casual, split-screen caper with me.
Eight hours later, with our eyes both turned to Minecraft-style blocks, we decided it might be best to go to bed, work in the morning and all that. We could have kept going on for several hours more, we weren’t even tired. This was tantric Minecraft. And I do believe that’s the key to it, you know, with Minecraft and with moving out – do it on your own if you must, it’ll still be an adventure. But it’ll be so much more fun with a partner in crime.
9 March 2021