I am a minecraft novice. There are many things that I know I do not know, and many more that I do not know that I do not know. But I have a world, and I have started to build. Selecting ‘creative mode’ (because ‘survival’ sounded like too much effort), I found myself in a primordial forest, surrounded by trees and vines.
Something hopped past (I have since learned to recognize it as a chicken – so if you were wondering whether the chicken or the egg came first, now you know). I pottered around in the undergrowth for a while, working out how the controls worked. I walked into a few trees. I build a very small hut, put a bed in it. I looked around in the gathering darkness, and thought, ‘this is pretty cool’.
Evening came, and morning came: the first day.
On the second day, I put a roof on my hut, using the same blocks, and managed to build a little pen on the roof for my chicken friend. It laid an egg. I planted a rose bush in the hut (because you can, on Minecraft, as long as you make your floor out of dirt or grass). I pottered around some more. My son pointed out that I could achieve more if I switched to ‘flying’ instead of walking about. I decided to build a tree house, at the top of the tree where I’d built my little hut. I had just laid the floor, when it began to get dark again. I made myself a new bed, rather than bothering to fly all the way down to my hut, because you can, on Minecraft. I looked around and thought, ‘I really like this, it’s fun.’
Evening came, and morning came: the second day. On the third day, I worked on my tree house. I found out how to do windows, and my son showed me how to do doors. To be hospitable, I put in a whole row of beds. And a staircase, and a second storey! I added book cases, a furnace (in case the perfect weather on Minecraft ever changed), and some torches on the walls. I added another chicken coup on the roof (because you can- and even with several chickens it was only quite a small coup and it was confined to the roof – they didn’t take over the whole world or anything). I clicked, and it was so. I looked around at my hut, my tree house, and my chickens, and I thought, ‘this is great – my own little world!’
Evening came, and morning came: the third day.
On the fourth day, my son and my daughter joined me in my world. They built tree houses of their own, and my tree house was designated the community centre. The kids decided that there would be a community rule that you have to spend every other day working on community projects – the alternate days you could work on your own treehouse. So they worked on the community centre, and built connecting paths between the centre and their huts. I made them put fences along the paths, because I’m so rubbish at controlling where I go that I kept falling off. They built a swimming pool, that anyone could use, and some public restrooms (really!). They added a spiral staircase all the way down the community centre’s tree and spawned some pigs in a pen at the bottom of the tree. As it began to get dark I looked around and I thought, ‘you know what? this is awesome, I am interacting with my kids (and showing that I’m not a dinosaur), they turn out to be pretty community minded, and we entertained ourselves all day without fighting’.
Evening came, and morning: the fourth day.
On the fifth day, we had a new rule. We’d sort of been doing it anyway, but we decided it was a Good Thing if we didn’t disturb the natural Minecraft environment any more than we really had to. We decided to stick to using ‘jungle blocks’ because they blended in with the natural environment, and that if we stuck to building in the treetops we wouldn’t have to cut down any trees or dig up the ground. I looked around and was really proud of my little world. As it began to get dark, I realised what was missing – there weren’t any people! Apart from us, the creators, of course. Never mind, it was all still awesome.
Evening came, and morning: the fifth day.
On the sixth day, I raised the subject of people (or ‘villagers’, as my son tells me they are called). He advised against it. He said they’d get everywhere, and ruin it all. He was probably right. So we decided against people. But we did train a couple of wolves into dogs. Later that day, the subject of church was raised. Should our treetop community have a church? The kids said they would get right on that project once they’d finished the swimming pool. I looked at some pictures on the internet of churches built on minecraft and was mind-blown. They were considerably more advanced than anything we had done so far. There was even a replica of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. As night fell, I doubted that our church would be quite on that level of awesomeness. But it was all still great. Especially without the people.
Evening came, and morning: the sixth day.
On the seventh day, it wasn’t a snow day after all, so with much complaining the kids donned their cold weather gear and headed off to school. I thought I might have a break from Minecraft, but it was just too tempting. I thought, ‘I know, I’ll start work on the church.’ That was an error. Without really thinking, I started building. My first step was to fly high up so I could find the biggest area – after all, a church has to be big and impressive, doesn’t it? And then I thought, ‘Which kind of stone shall I use? Sandstone is nice, but this nice grey stone will look more churchy.’ I started laying foundations in the treetops for a massive, stone church.
And then I stopped and looked at what I’d done. ‘Idiot!’ I berated myself (silently, because I am not alone in the house today, despite the children being at school). Why are you building a massive stone cathedral? Everything else here is small and made of jungle blocks. And why are you building a massive stone cathedral when you’ve not even spawned any people to use it? And having suffered cold, stone churches with uncomfortable seating for much of your life, why use your completely free choice about what a church might be like to perpetuate something that doesn’t even fit with the local landscape and, frankly, isn’t the sort of church that the community might need? And are there not other ways to make a building that could point to God? Plus, if you think it’s hard getting a wheelchair ramp put in a real medieval church, just try making one out of Minecraft blocks. But that’s another story (and if you know how to do it, please tell me in a comment!)
So I decided that perhaps today might be a rest day after all. I deleted my vast stone foundation and breathed a sigh of relief. We’ll have another think about the people, and the church, but for the time being, it’s still a pretty good world.