Social work freshman Aiden Morales has been playing Minecraft since he was 10 years old.
Like many people who played Minecraft in the early days, Morales stopped playing the game consistently years ago. However, thanks to Minecraft’s recent resurgence in popularity, Morales is now using the game to make friends.
Minecraft is an adventure game where players can mine and place blocks, fight monsters and craft items and tools. In May, Minecraft turned 10 years old and began hitting a second stride in its popularity.
The game can be played alone or with friends through multiplayer servers either hosted independently or through Minecraft’s online gameplay feature called “realms.”
“A buddy of mine, he has his own server, and we just play as a friend group, and I thought, ‘Hey, why not just make one for college?’” Morales said.
After talking to his resident assistant about setting up the server, Morales said there are plans to host a Kalpana Chawla Hall version of Minecraft Mondays and that the game server and Discord chat should be up in a few weeks.
Nostalgia played a part in the Minecraft renaissance along with its ease of play, computer science senior Austin Donovan said.
“I can remember it back in middle school, simpler times and all,” Donovan said.
Minecraft does well by being easy to continue on from previous gameplay, he said. Unlike many story-based games, Minecraft doesn’t have any dialogue to forget while the player is away.
“With Minecraft, I can just kind of save and come back to it,” he said.
Another factor that has contributed to the game’s second wave of success is the growth of online personalities since its initial release. On YouTube, Minecraft has become a phenomenon yet again, reclaiming spots on the trending page like wildfire.
Minecraft is known for its two modes, survival and creative. In survival mode, players start with nothing but a map and traverse the world mining for resources, building shelter, escaping monsters and avoiding death. In creative mode, players can fly, have unlimited amounts of every material and cannot die.
This has led to some remarkable feats in the game, from creating buildings and structures to recreating real-life paintings and locations. One player has even coded a working version of Pokemon Red inside the game using Minecraft’s redstone circuits.
The way Minecraft is set up makes it a good game for streamers and YouTubers as well, Donovan said. They can cut out some of the boring gameplay and jump straight to showing off the end result, so people who enjoy the game but aren’t experts can live vicariously through the more dedicated players.
“The game is so basic, but it’s also focused,” Donovan said. “It’s really easy to learn the basic mechanics, but it’s also so open that whenever you see someone do something huge, you know how much time and effort went into it.”
Other social media sites, like Twitter and Reddit, have also begun to play their part in bringing users back to the game through memes.
Donovan said the Minecraft memes draw him in and make him want to play the game again because the jokes are so simple and yet catchy at the same time.
Joshua Wilson, art and art history assistant professor, said whenever a game comes out in a similar block-like style, called a voxel art style, it serves the purpose of reminding people to check up on Minecraft.
The game has been around for more than a decade but has been relatively unmatched in terms of other creative world-building games, with its block-like aesthetic and variable gameplay, Donovan said.
“A lot of games have just tried to replicate just the block design,” Donovan said. “And it’s been very unsuccessful in following games. Minecraft was kind of a one-off on that.”
Minecraft is known for being a simple game with a massive fanbase, Donovan said. Its intuitive gameplay allows virtually anyone to pick up a controller and start playing.
Physics junior Matthew Smoot said part of the game’s appeal is that spending a couple hours building — or blowing things up — is a great way to wind down after a long day.
“You don’t need super ultra-realistic graphics to kind of get the premise,” Smoot said. “There’s an endless amount of creativity you can do.”