Minecraft is a very well known and popular game that has been around for a whole decade this year. There are even animated films of stories that people have created from using the the iconic blocks. Initially I would see 4 or 5 year old children using these blocks to create very simple objects and buildings when they began using the game. Yet a short while later I would see very detailed creations (some even looking like photographs) made by adults as well as older children, and I then realised that it was not at all a mere preschool level activity.
From childhood I have enjoyed building worlds and villages with Lego, forts and dollhouses with action figures, as well as train-sets. Thus it didn’t take long for me to embrace the current explosion of digital sandbox games including Minecraft, Fortnite, Portal Knights, Pixark etc. I could never get into Sims and Rollercoaster Tycoon as a teenager. Though once Minecraft and the other newer games I like which are somewhat similar came out, I virtually entered heaven!
The current sandbox games that I’m enjoying are essential for my psychological wellbeing in multiple ways. To begin with I have been doing many travel training days out in the community ever since my family and I got NDIS funding for our disabilities. These involve me moving out of my comfort zone by entering noisy and crowded environments. Traveling in a car (even as a passenger) is also stressful due to a combination of claustrophobia as well as the roads being so chaotic in this day and age. So having my iPad and Nintendo Switch in my bag is always important, and I use them to play all of the sandbox games to ground my mind during moments of feeling overstimulated or overwhelmed.
However an iPad is of course easier to fit inside a handbag, and Minecraft is the best game for me to play using that particular device. So I have of course made more worlds in Minecraft than I have in my other favourite games.
Another thing to add is that for the past year and a half I have been unable to travel interstate and overseas. There was even a USA trip that ended up getting canceled and luckily refunded last October. Yet just because I can’t travel anywhere physically at the moment doesn’t at all mean that I can’t take my mind and imagination anywhere that I want to go (in this world and beyond) by using creativity and Minecraft. In fact when I create worlds within Minecraft I enjoy spending a long time working on the details, as doing so gives my mind the illusion of being physically drawn to the place I’m building.
Currently I am building the magical world of Hogwarts as well as Walt Disney World. Initially the Cinderella castle took months to build, however I’ve found that we get quicker the more we practice by using the game. Putting together Lego sets is exactly the same.
Despite the fact that I enjoy playing with Lego, digital sandbox games (including Lego Worlds on my Nintendo Switch) have many advantages. Firstly the space I have digitally is limitless, in addition to me being able to play, screenshot and explore the places I build on those platforms. Then, as much as I do love Lego I still experience unpleasant thoughts about all of the plastic that is involved (I’m hopeful that Lego will soon begin to use recycled plastic in their bricks). In the case of sandbox games electricity and the consoles themselves are still made and used, but digital/cloud storage itself creates no additional plastic and environmental waste.
So I will still keep, play with and take stop motion videos of the Lego village and dollhouse town I have been working on for more than a decade. However every other new world/village I design from now and into the future will be made digitally, as there are definitely more benefits from doing so that way. Minecraft and other games like it are definitely a great invention!
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