Video game writer Alex Wiltshire fights the corner for Minecraft’s role as a creative outlet – and wins. Arno Bryant joins the fun.
To those who have missed out on the craze, Minecraft is a sandbox video game that invites the player to create worlds through the collection and assemblage of materials. “It’s all about living in a world made of blocks that do different things,” says Alex Wiltshire, author of the popular Minecraft Blockopedia. “It’s about explorations, creativity and problem solving – it’s about whatever you want to put into it, whether you want to build or simply have new experiences.”
In his Festival talk, Alex explains the process he went through while writing his Minecraft guide – over 300 pages of facts and insider secrets. His research appears more like a series of scientific experiments as he tests the different properties of the blocks within the game. He goes on to show off some of the constructions he’s created while playing alongside his five-year-old son. However, in his audience, Alex faces a unique challenge. While the children sit bolt upright, engrossed, their parents seem distracted, much to annoyance of their kids.
Alex hopes that by helping parents to understand Minecraft, he can help dispel some of the negative correlations that come with video games. “The game is really good at teaching you. At first you go into the world and you can’t do much, but as you get more tools you can do more things,” he says. “The thing about Minecraft is that it’s so complicated that parents often don’t play with their kids. But they could do because there are lots of ways to play together.”
Alex believes that it’s the process of getting lost in a world that attracts children to the game but can alienate parents. “As a child everything is new all the time and I think that’s why they are drawn to it,” he says.
As families queue up to get their books signed at the end of the event, its noticeable that parents are attempting to engage more in their children’s hobby, referencing “the red ones” or the “control block thingies”. Alex is enthusiastic: “Hopefully parents now understand more about the game, instead of just seeing a load of blocks on a screen.”