Minecraft was banned in my house when we were growing up. Why? My parents thought of it as a bad game. What made it bad? It ate away at my older brother’s time and attention and stopped him from going outside. What made Minecraft bad was that my brother thought it was amazing. He was obsessed with it.
It’s an interesting way to look at what makes a game ‘bad’, because if you’re a Minecraft creator, purveyor or marketer, having 10-year-old boys live and breathe the game means you’ve done your job well. If that’s the measurement of the ‘bad-ness’ of a game, it just depends on who you are. If you’re the parent of a screen-stuck iPad kid, Minecraft is a bad game.
Minecraft is the best-selling game of all time – it was created in 2009 by a Swedish programmer named Markus Persson who was inspired by the game “Infiniminer”, a game that by all accounts, flopped.
Media archeology is defined as “a field that attempts to understand new and emerging media through close examination of the past” (Parikka, Jussi). It involves analysis of humanitarian/artistic artifacts through consideration of the stuff that led to the artifact’s creation and builds upon our understanding of its cultural significance.
As you can see in the video above, the current version of Minecraft eventuated through taking inspiration from several other games. The archeology of Minecraft reflects the fact that it’s been on the scene for over a decade. It’s been made available on an incredible range of devices throughout that time. My little sister is able to play Minecraft on her Nintendo Switch (my parents seem to have lifted the ban).
Part of Minecraft’s addictive effect is owed to its creativity and availability. The freedom that the game affords users by allowing them to create their own goals and objectives means that those who play have no marked reason to ‘finish’ the game. It’s easy to continue playing for hours on end. The creators of Minecraft made the best game in existence – that’s why it’s so bad.