What is Minecraft?

Minecraft village
Mike Prosser / Flickr / CC 2.0

Minecraft Profile | Survival Guide | Monsters | Block Types | Controls

Release Info:

  • Developer: Mojang AB
  • Publisher: Mojang AB
  • Platforms: PC, Mac
  • Format: Digital Download
  • Release Date: 2011

Who It's For:

  • Those who like to build, tinker, explore and survive
  • Fans of LEGO building blocks
  • Those who enjoy customizing worlds

Who It Isn't For:

  • Those looking for concrete objectives or goals
  • Those expecting state-of-the-art visuals

Minecraft is an independently designed computer game that, despite being a work in progress, has been featured on the cover of PC Gamer, nominated for multiple Independent Games Festival awards, and according to its developer, has sold more than one million copies (as of January 13, 2011). Yes, that's one million. The game officially entered its beta phase on December 20, 2010.

Why is a "little" game like Minecraft generating such pre-release buzz? It's primarily due to its malleable world, comprised entirely of cubes. In Minecraft you can freely interact with your randomly generated environment and gather resources needed to create tools, homes, boats, bridges and more.

You'll primarily shape your block-like surroundings by digging, chopping and mining. As you progress, you'll encounter water, sand, stone, ore, trees, animals, rocks, lava and even monsters.

Players will find a lot of similarities between Minecraft and their favorite building games. The open-ended design and level of customization will immediately draw sim gamers in, as the game lets you modify and tweak the environment in surprising ways.

Want to create a sprawling castle with multiple floors and enough rooms to get lost in? How about digging out a huge moat or erecting a giant statue in a courtyard? These are but a few of the possibilities in the game, and you can also decorate and furnish your dwelling by creating simple items.

The key difference between Minecraft and traditional building games, of course, is that you are playing from a first-person perspective and have to cobble together (then position or place) the items yourself. So it is a refreshing change of pace from the traditional simulation, while retaining many of the same addictive features (free-form structure, customization, exploration, experimentation) on a more intimate scale.

While the game lacks the soap-opera style interactions with other computer-controlled people in the vein of The Sims series -- you are the only human character in Minecraft's single-player game -- you can work on building a world with others in a separate multiplayer mode. To connect with others online, you'll need to enter in the IP address of the server that's hosting a world.