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What is Minecraft?

Trying to define Minecraft is difficult. From its early days of simple mining and crafting, so much more has been added that at times it can feel like a completely different game. In essence, Minecraft is still an action-adventure sandbox title, offering players a limitless world they can explore to their heart’s content.

It offers an array of different modes, perfect for almost any type of gamer. Are you more of a creative person? You’ll likely enjoy the endless playground it has to offer, allowing you to build anything you can imagine. Or perhaps you’re looking for more of a challenge. You can try to last in its survival mode, as you battle against the creatures of the night.

There’s certainly more to Minecraft than meets the eye, and its blocky appearance makes it seem like a deceptively simple adventure. If you’ve never played Minecraft — or if you’re thinking about returning from a long hiatus — you’ll be impressed by how much it has to offer, and the kind of game it has become. Not only has it evolved tremendously since it released, but it also went on to become one of the bestselling games of all time.

Further Reading

Development of Minecraft

Minecraft players on top of mountain a pig, a sheep and a wolf

Minecraft was created by Mojang in 2009 and is the brainchild of Markus “Notch” Persson. It is heavily inspired by games such as Dwarf Fortress, Dungeon Keeper, and Infiniminer, but takes the free-form, sandbox gameplay seen in those titles to new heights. It was the company’s first official game and has gone on to become the best-selling game of all time, with over 180 million copies sold to date.

Eventually, Microsoft purchased Mojang and Minecraft from Persson for $2.5 billion, and Persson stepped away from its development. Minecraft now features four modes — Hardcore, Creative, Adventure, and Spectator — that allow players to cater the gaming experience to their liking. It can also be played online with friends, and thousands of mods are available for download that introduce new content to its already bustling world.

Mining and crafting are the bedrock of Minecraft


It’s obvious enough, but the world of Minecraft revolves around the simple tasks of mining resources and crafting new objects. And — in all honesty — that accounts for most of the game. You’ll trek out into the wilderness, punch trees to collect some wood, fashion that into an axe, and slowly build up an inventory of armor, weapons, furniture, tools, and precious minerals. Along the way you’ll also build a few shelters to call home and store your belongings in when on a respite from adventure.

The explore, build, repeat gameplay loop is endlessly addicting and is only limited by your imagination. Even if you’re not a creative type, there’s still plenty of fun to be had by going on dangerous adventures into the Nether — a hell-like world filled with incredible treasures and dangerous monsters.

Or, you can enjoy some premade worlds fashioned by other players and go on a guided quest, indulge in minigames, or play a round of Cops and Robbers. If your imagination needs some inspiration, there’s always a new mod or player creation to help spark your creativity.

Complexity in its simplicity

Minecraft features a procedurally generated world, meaning you’ll never encounter the same thing twice. Plus, it includes nearly 400 unique items, giving players plenty to discover and unlock. One of the most ingenious additions to Minecraft was Redstone, which is essentially the Minecraft version of electricity. This component has given players the ability to craft elaborate puzzles, mazes, roller coasters — even a functioning iPhone 6.

This allowance for creativity is what sets Minecraft apart from many other games on the market. Not only does it give you limitless freedom, but it gives you powerful tools to create almost anything you can imagine. While it might revolve around the basic tasks of mining and crafting, there is no ceiling on where that can take you.

Play how you want

Minecraft on iOS

If you can’t whip up an iPhone 6 from scratch — or get overwhelmed just thinking about it — Minecraft still has plenty for you to do. You can indeed create amazing and elaborate buildings (and more) in Minecraft. But you can forgo intricate creations entirely and focus on exploring the world. Part of the fun is exploring and building up an arsenal of powerful weapons to assist you on your travels. The game also rewards you for playing however you’d like. Minecraft never makes you feel as if you’re playing it the wrong way. Players who don’t want to create elaborate buildings or contraptions can still find plenty to do in any mode. Enjoy hunting for diamonds, exploring vast cave systems, creating a farm, raising livestock, or building a simple home, just for starters. You can also collaborate with friends to erect structures, go on adventures, and perform wacky, blocky experiments.

Available on a wide variety of devices

Best Game Controllers for the iPhone
Oleg Doroshin /

Minecraft is available in two editions — Minecraft Java Edition and Minecraft Bedrock Edition. While you can only play the Java edition on a PC, you can play Bedrock across devices such as Android, iOS, and game consoles. If you’re using a PC to play, you can sidestep the restriction by running the Bedrock client in order to play it on your computer. Because Microsoft owns Minecraft now, you can use one login (your Xbox Live credential) to log in no matter what device you’re using. Minecraft makers were wise to have made the game compatible with a wide range of devices, giving the game ample exposure to the player population. Since the makers thought about this compatibility, you’re also able to game with friends who own the game on a different system, which is a pretty unique feature, and a fun one to use to your advantage.

If you do happen to get in a rut, you can step into the mod world, with new mods cropping up all the time, and you can try your hand at making your own. The Minecraft modding community is among the largest in the entire industry of games, with several options depending on your interest and budget. The fact that you are reading this article means that Minecraft has sparked your interest, and we recommend that you try it out for yourself to see if its decade-long popularity holds up to its publicity. It’s interesting to hear everything you’re capable of while playing Minecraft, but it’s even more fun when you play it for yourself.

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Jon Bitner
Jon Bitner is a freelance journalist whose gaming addiction began with the SEGA Genesis. His work has been published on…
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