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Why We Build

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jamdelaney1 avatar jamdelaney1
Level 64 : High Grandmaster Architect
I have been playing Minecraft creatively for roughly two years now, yet despite the hundreds of hours played and the millions of blocks placed, I have never once seriously questioned my motives for doing this. In this blog I will be addressing the question of why we build and what drives so many of us to commit vast amounts of our time to creative building. Our individual reasons for building will inevitably differ; although there are some similarities in everyone's motives to build, building in Minecraft means different things to different people. Throughout this blog I shall therefore be referencing the opinions of a variety of builders to whom I have put this question.

At a basic level, the average builder's primary motive for buildings appears to be for self-amusement. Minecraft is a computer game and I think most people would agree that we all play computer games for fun. However building 'for fun' seems to me a fairly unsatisfactory answer; to truly answer the question of why we build, we need to examine exactly what it is that makes building enjoyable. To a stranger, that is someone who hasn't come across the game before, Minecraft has bad graphics, a complete lack of focus or purpose and most importantly a lack of the reward system upon which most games rely on to engage their audience. Games such as World of Warcraft are partly successful because they appeal to the brain's natural desire for achievement, to reach the next level, to complete the next quest, to get better weapons. Minecraft's lack of this reward system is what makes it so distinctive, and in my opinion what makes creative building so enjoyable. For years and years gamers have been playing inside worlds created by game developers - the course of every player has been planned by some game developer and no matter what you do (in most cases) the player cannot escape the eventual fate that is destined to them. And then Minecraft came along and tore that up; Mojang has provided the infrastructure and resources, but it's now the player who defines the world they are in - the player has a creative freedom which had previously been denied to them by other games.

I spoke to various members of the Angel Block Society - a group of professional creative builders. Whilst individual responses varied to some extent, there was a common theme of building to realize their imagination, to communicate ideas and express themselves creatively. In this way, close links can be drawn between creative building and art - a topic which I intend to address in future blogs. Whilst I strongly agree with this attitude, I also think there is an additional motive (particularly among more advanced builders) which supports this stimulus. This supporting factor is one upon which this very forum relies - builders are motivated to share their ideas with the community. Top-tier builders in particular actively want to show off their accomplishments - both for the credit they receive as well as a method of improvement. As a result the creative community plays a vital role in encouraging builders to strive for bigger, better builds - and is therefore a key factor in why we build.

Whilst the community does play a vital role in motivating builders, it is indisputable that many builders also build for themselves. Having completed a building, no matter how large or small, the builder is bound to feel at least some sort of self-satisfaction, a feeling of accomplishment and achievement which exists irrespective of the opinions of the community. An extension of this motive is perhaps popularity and eminence. As with many of today's creative industries, music, art, television - there is a constant struggle driven by a desire to become noticed. Whilst creative forums such as this help motivate builders to cultivate and develop their skills, they also encourage a competition and rivalry between many top builders to become the most celebrated builder.

The most convincing factor, in my opinion, of why we build is to immerse ourselves into a different world, to distract ourselves from reality by engaging in a fictional universe free from our daily troubles and worries. This is common among most computer games, RPG games in particular, but Minecraft is particularly successful at creating this 'fake reality' - simply because the player can create whatever universe he or she wants to exist in. Once again Minecraft's success lies in giving the player unprecedented control over their world.

To conclude, I'll reveal my personal incentive to build in Minecraft - probably one which is best described as a culmination of the reasons listed above. Primarily for amusement, amusement which is gained from the creative freedom and expression, the challenge to improve, the strive for success and the desire to be a significant part of the creative community. In addition my real life ambitions of becoming an architect have no doubt spurred my endeavours.

I think it's fair to say there are plenty of valid reasons to dedicate time to building in Minecraft, and I hope that whenever someone questions your use of time playing (what my parents frequently refer to as a 'silly computer game'), you are able to respond in a way that convinces them otherwise.

Many thanks for reading my first attempt at a blog, if you have any questions, comments or reviews please feel free to list them below and I'll do my very best to answer them.

Additionally any support you could show would be much appreciated - for anyone who's interested in subscribing I would like to make clear that I am not primarily a blogger, I aim to deliver quality Minecraft builds aswell.

I intend to create a series of articles similar to this one questioning the relationship of Minecraft, art and architecture, as well as articles associated with such topics. If you have any suggestions for future articles you would like me to write please once again feel free to leave them in a comment.
CreditThanks to the Angel Block Society for their opinions on the matter. The cover image was created by myself and is a rendered image of a medieval castle I built a while ago on the Mithrintia server.

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03/13/2014 9:49 pm
Level 46 : Master Architect
SilentNoises avatar
I favorite'd this blog long ago, because I found out greatly written and expressed pretty much the motives of almost any Creative player, well said man.

I read it again recently after a group of people starting poking fun about why I play minecraft and that only losers play it, and how I could be doing better  things with life like "going to parties, etc etc". But really, Minecraft Creative, in the end, is like any other form of art;
-You strive to be creative.
-You enjoy sharing your creation with other people
-You let your imagination free 
And so on and so forth.

So really, instead of following the crowd for the sake of "Not being a loser who plays a computer game", things like building let us escape reality and let our imagination take us to new places.
10/05/2013 5:42 am
Level 6 : Apprentice Crafter
_Jokez_ avatar
Minecraft gives u So much opportunities, like Designing(building, skinning,texture pack) mental training(redstone) social intereractions(multiplayer) programming (modding) and it can help u escape from your stress in daily lives :D truly, minecraft is an amazing game:)
05/31/2013 7:31 pm
Level 9 : Apprentice Architect
sarcasticburger avatar
So deep
05/04/2013 9:25 pm
Level 37 : Artisan Toast
_ElegantEphemeral_ avatar
lmao, ikr so true. my parents say this to me all time. (what my parents frequently refer to as a 'silly computer game'

this game is what brought out the creative side of me i didn't know i had before and gave me the love of architecture.
10/05/2013 5:37 am
Level 6 : Apprentice Crafter
_Jokez_ avatar
I bet u if your parents play it, they will love it:)
10/13/2013 8:30 am
Level 37 : Artisan Toast
_ElegantEphemeral_ avatar
haha i wish. but that is the most untrue, they find it dumb.
04/29/2013 3:58 pm
Level 32 : Artisan Architect
SpecterCody avatar
I must comment that I have learned so much about design from building in MC, so it was surely was not a waste!
02/11/2013 4:01 pm
Level 30 : Artisan Cake
Geppetto avatar
Probably the best blog I've ever read.
02/11/2013 8:01 pm
Level 64 : High Grandmaster Architect
jamdelaney1 avatar
Many thanks, that really means alot :)
01/16/2013 10:22 pm
Level 37 : Artisan Architect
Fresh avatar
Awesome blog, dude! post new blogs, please, Ill read them ALL :D
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