Ten things I learned from Minecraft

Minecraft scene

Minecraft isn’t just a game, it’s life. You can learn so much from it if you pay attention. And breed enough llamas.

I fell in a Minecraft hole recently. I didn’t know version 1.16 had just come out, that was just a happy surprise.

Love my blue fire.

Yes, I probably lost a good bit of writing time building a new castle, but Minecraft isn’t just a game of digging and building. It also contains important life lessons.

Here are ten of mine.

Security comes at the cost of convenience

My main activity in Minecraft is building castles. Most of my other activities are primarily to support this goal.

My castles fall at different points on the continuum from practical to pretty, but security is always a consideration. (Not security against zombies. Security against invading armies that don’t exist in Minecraft, and may or may not exist in my book.)

My treasures should be stored somewhere high, behind thick walls, and up a lot of stairs.

I don’t hide my treasure. Hiding treasure is for those without sturdy castles and (imaginary) armies to protect them.

The problem is that such treasure storehouses are inconvenient to get to, so inevitably I put in a short-cut: a door through a solid wall that stops me having to run up and down several flights of stairs.

Security is great, but convenience always wins.

The entrance to my castle. See the murder holes?

Being able to walk on water is useful

There was a guy who did this before, right?

I’m not talking about him.

I mean if you put water lilies on top of your waterways your sugar cane will never fall in the pond again. Your life will be bliss.

You can have aesthetics or functionality, not both

Yes, I’m thinking about my castles again.

People can make gorgeous castles. (Not me. I can only make ugly castles.)

Or people can make castles that give you good vantage points to shoot the attacking zombies. Which are ugly.

For some reason you can never have both.

Goods at one location are not a substitute for the same goods at a different location

If I have librarians at the base of my castle (which I do), sugar cane at my castle is worth a lot.

Sugar cane in a random chest on the far side of the continent is worth almost nothing.

It might be worth so little I don’t even bother riding over to bring it back and sell it. (My horse is really slow.)

Not you, obviously. You’re amazing.

Never trust a llama to carry your valuables

I love llamas. (In Minecraft. I’m not sure I’ve met a llama in real life, though I have alpacas living across the road.)

They make adorable noises and their babies are the cutest things ever.

The idea of llama caravan trains is great: pile up half a dozen llamas with all the sugar cane you want transported, put one llama on a lead, and head off across the continent.

In practice, two llamas get stuck on the first tree you pass, another falls in the river and is left bobbing there, two more get distracted and are left standing gormlessly on a hillside, and the llama you’re leading steps in lava and burns to death.

You didn’t really want that sugar cane, right?

Check out the llamas. They do not like to pose for photos.

No one needs zombies chasing them

Dying and losing all my enchanted diamond armour and tools was always the most annoying part of (survival) Minecraft.

Then those rats with banners came along and started attacking my villages.

Recently I discovered “peaceful mode”. I planned to use it only until my village was secure, and then switch back to “easy”.

But guess what. I like not being chased by zombies while mining or if I accidentally get stuck too far from my bed at night.

Even once I finish building a wall I’m not sure I’ll be able to go back.

No one’s life is better when they’re being chased by zombies.

Dogs don’t belong in a building site

I build the old-fashioned way: subject to gravity, without scaffolding, usually at a great height (because castles should be on top of mountains, duh).

I walk a fine line stepping out over the edge to build an overhang from above.

I used to fall off a lot before I discovered stepping at an angle for finer control.

Now I only fall when my dog pushes me.

Herecome my dog (and my cat).

Life is sweeter if you remember where you left your horse

Does this need explaining?

I have four main sites around my castle: the castle itself, the garden where I grow sugar cane, among other things, the paddock where I breed stock, and the village.

Then there’s my spawn site, the original village near my spawn site, the mine where I found railroads, my route to the savanna, and so on.

I get around by horse, by tunnel, by train, or by running.

Horses are highly convenient transport until you forget where you left them.

Note this is different to real life. In my experience, riding is many things, but convenient is not one of them.

The further through life you go, the more stuff you acquire

And it weighs you down.

This is true in life and probably any game you play.

Early on, you don’t have much and you can carry it all with no problem. Then you gather more things: iron ingots, lead ropes, buckets of milk just in case you have to kill one of those pesky grey guys and go into a village afterwards.

Sure, each one of these items makes your life easier, but it’s also one more slot you can’t use to carry pretty flowers you find in foreign lands.

Real life is the same. Sometimes I think I should clean house (except for the books).

Ugly castle on a mountain.

I should not be an architect

I have a range of skills: I can toast a mean slice of bread, provide a warm lap for the cat, read in at least one language, and solve partial differential equations.

But I’m the last person you should call on to design buildings.

Luckily the villagers I build houses for don’t complain. You shouldn’t either.

In case this wasn’t clear, Minecraft is incredible fun and a superb waste of time. I justify it saying I’m building the settings from my book.

Do you play Minecraft? What did you learn from it?

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Author: A.S. Akkalon

By day, A.S. Akkalon works in an office where the computers outnumber the suits of armour more than two-to-one. By night, she puts dreams of medieval castles, swords, and dragons onto paper.

14 thoughts on “Ten things I learned from Minecraft”

  1. You can solve partial differential equations? I’m seriously impressed. I’m not sure I can even remember what one of those is these days. I’m fairly sure I used to know, back when I was in secondary school. I used to have a handle on calculus back then (differential anyway, I never really could hack integral calculus), then I did the Open University maths foundation course and discovered that I didn’t really know calculus at all.

    1. You learned pdes at high school? I didn’t even get to them until my third year of university. And that was some time ago, so possibly I can’t solve them as well as I used to be able to. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Llamas?! Make cute noises?! Every time I hear that “BLEGH” sound they make in Minecraft I nearly jump out of my skin.

    I only ever tried to build a castle once in survival Minecraft and that was with my sister, who is much better at the game than me. And that castle sucked compared to yours ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

    1. How can you not adore the llama noises?! Sometimes I don’t even think I know you.

      You like my castle? Yay! I like my castle, but I like all castles so I’m not sure that says anything.

      I’m not sure being good at Minecraft is something we should compete on. I think it makes more sense to compete on how much fun we have playing. So, how fun was your castle to build?

  3. I like your castle, it’s very rustic ๐Ÿ™‚

    I should probably play more vanilla Minecraft to build settings. Me and my partner play a lot of modded, which is awesome for inventory management as you can make a computer to dump everything in, but it can be so complicated!

    1. Thank you! I’ve tried non-rustic castles, but they don’t really take and I always end up at a similar style.

      I like playing modded as well, but my laptop has processing problems and it ends up being slow and jumpy. After a while I get sick of playing at 6 frames per second. I agree, the storage options are excellent.

  4. My children love Minecraft. They build whole worlds, elven treehouses, enormous towers, and nether portals. They use those to get around. A few steps in the nether equates to a long distances the regular world.

    They also play on peaceful. My youngest doesnโ€™t want zombies chasing her, and they like to connect iPads and play in the same world.

    1. That sounds like so much fun! Computer games have come a long way since we were kids.

      I’ve come across using the Nether to travel long distances, but I used to play on normal, so the Nether was kind of scary and I never went there much. I might have to give it another go in the non-zombie version. (I can’t find a jungle.)

  5. I don’t know if I should be proud or ashamed that I have gotten to this point in life without ever once solving a partial differential equation, or even understanding exactly what that is. Since my dog can make the same claim, I guess the answer is “ashamed.” Besides math, what I fail to understand is how you find time to work, write, provide scaffolding for your cat, AND play Minecraft. Have you given up sleeping? ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. The trick is largely giving up working. I’m only doing half time at the moment, which I have to say I love. I start at 7am and finish at 12pm four days a week, and them I’m done. It will be a sad day when I have to go back to full time.

      Honestly, I’m not sure most people have a lot of use for partial differential equations. I haven’t used them since I graduated. And you can do many things your dog can’t. Getting food out on a tin is one. So no call at all to feel ashamed. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Punch trees and good things happen.

    Always take a steel and flint into hell.

    The answer to most problems is ‘set it on fire.’

    And, most important of all…. never, ever, ever dig straight down.

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