Minecraft goes into beta, existential therapy

mc13.jpg Minecraft, the indie exploration/building title that took the gaming world by storm this fall, has left its experimental phase and entered beta. The price goes up to 15 Euros and the developers' focus moves to polish and content — and the development of a modding interface to let others add their own features to the game. With its low-fi, ultra-hip 3D lego set look, Minecraft can seem a faddish thing. John Brownlee, referencing Shelley's Ozymandias, explains the egomaniacal hook that lies beneath the surface, making people stick with it:
It's a solipsist's god sim, with all of the loneliness and pathos that implies. ...There's more to Minecraft than just a 3D set of building blocks to play with. Minecraft's setting itself is haunting, in that it forces players into a situation where the entire game is to answer this question: ... Are the massive castles or statues I built in any of my inevitably discarded Minecraft worlds really much different? Colossal works of deific arrogance conducted for the benefit of the author's own ego, then swiftly forgotten.
It's true: I constantly think that I'm going to take the places I've built in Minecraft (like my awesome floating island town, above) and share them with other players as a multiplayer instance. But really, who cares? Once you've seen one pixelated starship, European Cathedral or epic hollow tree, you've seen them all. Without the potential for storytelling, a Minecraft world is a poor man's Myst "book" with no puzzles. And when played from the outset with a group of friends, Minecraft is a very different experience. I Have No Mouth and I Must Build [Gearfuse]