Digital Trends may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

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 it — Minecraft still has plenty for you to do. In fact, you can forgo elaborate creations entirely and just focus on exploring the world and building up an arsenal of powerful weapons to assist you on your travels. The game rewards you for playing however you’d like and 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 enjoy hunting for diamonds, exploring vast cave systems, creating a farm, raising livestock, and building a simple home.

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. The Java edition is only playable on PC, while the Bedrock edition supports cross-play between Android, iOS, consoles, and PC users running the Bedrock client. With so many supported devices, it’s easy to see why millions of players have given it a try. Plus, the impressive cross-play capability makes it simple to play with friends who own the game on a different system, a feature often lacking in other hit titles.

Minecraft might be called an action-adventure game — or even a sandbox-survival game. But the sandbox it offers is massive, and the adventures it will send you on are nearly endless. If the world you’ve created starts to get boring, you can always dive into the sprawling world of mods, where new content is being added daily. The modding community is one of the largest in the gaming industry, and you’re certain to find something that can keep you entertained for days on end. If you’re curious what all the fuss is about — or how Minecraft has remained popular for more than 10 years — do yourself a favor and give it a shot. You might be surprised at how fun the blocky world can be.

Editors' Recommendations