When I was a child, I built things out of Legos. When my father was a child, he made things out of dirt. When I have children they will build things in Minecraft. This, it seems, is the natural progression of things. Print turns to digital, film to video, toys to video games. The shift from the concrete to the virtual is one that cannot be ignored, and Britt McTammany’s “Minecraft is Fun” is a one and a half minute glimpse at the way this change is affecting our children, and how it will continue, as we venture forth into the digital unknown.
On January 26, the Florida-based film maker, released his short “Minecraft is Fun,” a micro-documentary on what makes Minecraft so appealing to children. The impressionistic piece centers on siblings Olivia, seven, and Iain, ten, as they play the game together. Sitting across from each other on respective MacBook Pro’s, the two work together to create structures and their own world within the game. This is how children play these days. The children’s eyes never leave their screens, and yet they are looking at the same thing, interacting in the same world. “Now could you go get two birch wood? That’s it. DON’T turn it into planks,” Iain instructs his sister. When I was growing up, much to the dismay of anyone venturing into my room barefoot, I was obsessed with Legos. My friends and I often found ourselves elbow-deep in a tub of the plastic bricks, desperately searching for that one perfect piece needed to complete whatever feat of plastic engineering the day’s imagination ordered. Now the process is much more streamlined, and the creative possibilities seemingly endless.
“I think I like the building, ‘cause I’m a big fan of building stuff,” Iain tells us, as he and his sister work on the deck to their new beach home, Olivia’s favorite thing is playing with her friends. Perhaps Iain will find himself a career in architecture, perhaps Olivia in international relations. It is a testament to the age we live in that children don’t need to play with each other in order to play with each other. Though they’re sitting at the same table, on opposing computers, Olivia and Iain could be on the other side of the planet and the experience would be the same. As technology allows our world to become smaller and smaller, it also allows our creativity to grow larger and larger. Now, instead of searching for that one perfect building block to complete the castle, often settling for second best, one simply crafts it.
Minecraft, developed by Swedish programmer Marcus “Notch” Persson, was first released in alpha on May 17, 2009, and saw an official release on November 18, 2011. The game has seen massive success, selling over 20 million copies across all platforms.