Minecraft Review Notes!

Minecraft Episodes


Great game that delivers on so many fronts and with so many elements. Reviewing one would be impossible so it’s probably best to hack it into gobbets for ease of digestion. I’ll be focusing on the horror aspects of the game.


Introduction 1: Discuss the point of this series. Ie. The review of the elements of Minecraft that contribute to the atmosphere of the game in relation to horror. The horror aspects of Minecraft.

-The material gathering system

-The tiered design with an aim towards progression

-The necessity of mining to acheive progression

The biggest advantage that games have over movies or books is interactivity. Making someone want to make a choice, or at least, providing them the illusion of having made a choice, adds a level of involvement. However, making it interesting means adding tension. Then, there’s the payoff and the consequences.


Building tension:


The environment outside. First, the shifts from night to day and the clock you’re working on. Many elements of the game, from the system of hunger, which forces you to run around and explore, and how that relates to healing and running, provide a sense of urgency. Night and the invasion of monsters. Frantically searching for home. For coal. Driven underground. Into the dark.


Mechanics and consequences. Because of the way you collect items, and then need to process them before they’re useful, long mining expeditions, especially those which lead to a long stretch of caves, leave you with an inventory full of goodies. However, given the psychotic, criss-cross nature of caves, dying often means you have a chance to lose your items if you need to run back to your body. Keeping a large inventory while you explore also leads to another set of choices. There’s the choice of when to turn back. However, that choice, and the limited inventory, always leave the player aware of exactly how much they have to lose. This adds more tension.


Mining and the darkness. The random nature of the generation of the world leaving players wondering, guessing. The generation of monsters at random points making planning difficult, or, at least, defensive in nature. They are an ever-present threat. You never know when you’ll break in on a cave, or lava flow or have a creeper on your back. This keeps the player tense and on their guard. There are rules that must be followed. There are also the noises and the music which keep the player on their toes. The signals of danger.


The pay-offs:


Tension is no good without a few harsh lessons in pain, though. Narrow bridges over lava. The ever-present threat of creepers. The unknown voids into which we plunge. Hordes of spiders.


Re-emergence into the outside world, triumphant. Building a home, consolidating your gains and defense. The still ever-present threat of the world and monsters. Creepers and the destruction of what you’ve built. Paranoia built through experience building further tension. There is always an attitude of defense to keep you guessing.


Hell. The world itself. The more visual, daunting threats. Not trusting the ground beneath your feet. The value of the items you’re carrying that are necessary simply to survive in hell adding to the tension, threat, and fear generated by its volatility.


Endermen and the end-game. Same basics as hell. The added creep-factor of the ender-men.


The little quirks of the game that add to the overall impression of an expansive world. The little camp in hell with a set of starting gear in it. The abandoned tunnels. The small, besieged towns. The large, underground mines and the retreat of humanity to the small towns for protection in the light. Mods (thaumcraft monsters and the threat to safety). The coming of the darkness. Mysteries. (ie. Enchanting) The pay-off of power and safety as the measure against all the built tension. The ultimate pay-off of horror being reprieve. … Sort of. (creeper explosion goes here… followed by sinking into lava lol)  


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