|A Player-Built Fortress|
Minecraft isn't so much a game as it is an open world to explore and create; the only objective is to stay alive and not be eaten by the many ominous monsters that appear after dark. In the game, you play a blocky, cubic person who is originally equipped with nothing but his hands. Once your world is created (each player has a unique world, unless you are playing in a multiplayer world, which is even more incredible in its ability to whittle away the hours of your life), your first goal is to, essentially, figure out what to do and how to craft the items that will keep you alive. There is no tutorial, and while you have quite a lot of inventory slots, it is up to you to figure out how to fill them.
The basic object of the game is to use the natural world around you to create a "home" for yourself and to create tools which you can use to increase your efficiency and chance at survival. The entire world (for the most part) is customizable: trees can be cut down or grown, dirt and rocks can be broken apart or built up, you can create glass, doors and inventory chests, and clothing for your cube-person. It is entirely up to you to figure out how to craft items and which items will best suit your purposes.
Minecraft made its alpha debut in May 2009 and although it hasn't yet reached its beta release, the game has already provided a creative outlet to many players who have created the most outstanding works: the reconstruction of Notre Dame, the Reichstag (German parliament building), the Earth itself, or... brace for impact... a complete 1:1 scale model of the Starship Enterprise.
Minecraft's true beauty is in its simplicity: there are rocks and wood and you can make things. It's just stone and tools: you're playing a caveman or the survivor of Flight 815 (oh crap, now I have new Minecraft ideas!!!!!) and yet, the possibilities are (almost) endless! The World of Minecraft YouTube account also has some great build-of-the-week videos that are all very impressive. The complexity of the structures and creations are entirely up to the will of the individual player.
|The road through Farmland|
And now that you've hopefully had time to come to terms with that Enterprise video, check this out: this guy built a frigging *working* calculator (which he can eventually evolve into a *computer*) in-game. Specifically, he created the framework for a binary system that can do arithmetic. I thought the giant earth replica was phenomenal; I don't think I can even get my head around this! Someone please explain how insane this is.
Minecraft is great for casual wandering or for massive-scale building. It's great to wander alone, or build massive structures with friends. I highly recommend checking it out, or at least surfing around YouTube and Flickr, and seeing some of the crazy videos and photos of the things that people have done in this game!
Good luck, and don't stay up until 5 AM playing this if you work the next morning!