The Minecraft Diaries 1: You must learn to walk before you can mine.

Here I am!... Now what?

Here I am!… Now what?

I have a new game obsession these days: Minecraft!

Minecraft is an award-winning indie sandbox game, in which you try to stay alive in an often-hostile world (“three times the size of Earth!”) while collecting resources and building things. Its genius is that it’s so many games in one, and you can play differently depending on your personality or your mood: you can be an explorer, a builder/designer, a mad scientist/inventor, an adventurer, and if you play SMP (Survival multi-player), the game gets even bigger as you can team up or compete with other people.

I was so excited to get started! I’ve watched so many Minecraft videos, I felt like I knew how to play and just what I wanted to do.

I should’ve known better. My only comfort is that most (all?) new players flail around just as badly as I did!

The first thing I did was get lost. I forgot instantly where my spawn point was (the area where you first appear), despite my determination to make some kind of mark so as not to wander too far from it in case of death. If you die without having slept in a bed, or if that bed is destroyed, you return to your original spawn point, and it’s good if you can find your stuff again before it disappears (“despawns”). I was having trouble just managing things like walking and looking around; it takes a little getting used to.

The next thing I did, after I dug a hole with my hands in the side of a hill because I’d forgotten how to make any tools (and I was panicking), was stay out too late at night and get killed by a mob (short for “mobile NPC” or non-player character) because I couldn’t figure out how to run away. I think it was a skeleton, which shoots arrows at you.

The third thing I did the morning after I respawned was drown, because I didn’t know how to move in water.

I was wandering around, exploring the spawn area and practicing the use of keyboard and mouse. I arrived at a cliff above a beach and I thought it might’ve been near where I’d built my first shelter, the one I dug with my hands just before getting killed by a skeleton. I leapt happily into the water; having seen many an LPer jump into water more than two blocks deep, I knew it was safe. I sank deep below the surface. And then I couldn’t figure out how to get back up.

... help!

… help!

It’s hard to find out how to do this even if you have Google and lots of time. The Minecraft wiki is silent on the subject. Videos on YouTube show people swimming, and say not a word on how to swim.

Turns out, you hold the space bar down. I was pressing it over and over. I drowned.

I respawned, and headed back to the same area, thinking I would at least find that shelter and have somewhere to spend the night. Night fell fast, though, and to no one’s surprise I’m sure, I got blown up by a creeper and died. This was day 2 of my Minecraft existence.

The creeper hole.

The creeper hole.

Instead of respawning, I rage-quit and left the computer alone for a little while (to think about what it had done, I suppose). Then I made a new world and entered it in Creative mode.

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