There is a gaming phenomenon and it's name is Minecraft. Developed by Markus Persson of Mojang AB, this game has been bubbling away through it's various stages of development since summer 2009 and having broken through the million units sold mark a mere few weeks ago it is gradually eroding the lives and careers of those unfortunate enough to have been exposed to it's charms.
If addiction to computer games is to be regarded as a social evil analogous to drug use, then Minecraft is a class A substance - the Crack of computer games.
Which is pretty amazing because when you first see it, the interface is like a return to the primordial ooze of ancient computer games. Yes siree! Minecraft's graphic interface seems more redolent of Dungeon Master than even the first version of Tomb Raider. We are talking blocky - verrrryyyyyy blocky.
But as with Dungeon Master that's part of this elegant game's charm, it works on your imagination it's wonder to unfold. The game which falls under the "sandbox genus of computer games, has an amazingly simple premise which is so basic to the human condition that it has you under it's spell from the moment you launch the game (and say goodbye to your glittering career - such are the demands on your time it will entail). The game will generate a world which is unique to each new game you choose to launch. You will find yourself in a first person environment which is seemingly endless. The virtual world which you now inhabit is filled with trees, mountains, hills, caves, sea, sand, livestock, including chickens straight out of Carl Bark's "Lost in the Andes" and like Bark's Duck tale everything is built to an insane Aztec architect's plans, spherical objects being conspicuous by their absence.
Your mission should you choose to follow it Mr Phelps, is to build yourself a shelter and this you need to do P.D.Q. as the world you now inhabit is geared to an accelerated 24 hr clock and before you know it darkness will be upon you, you won't be able to see an arm reach beyond your face and the creatures that roam this otherwise benign and reassuring land now include the undead, we're talking hideous creatures such as zombies, skeletons with archery skills and (according to Mr Seananners) exploding penises. Mr Seananners whose tireless advocacy of this game must have steered many an aspirant attorney, brain surgeon, playwright and painter away from their chosen career path and into a downward spiral of total Minecraft addiction, is one of the most engaging reviewers you could ever come across on YouTube.
Here are some samples of the man in action:
This game is infinite in it's possibilities, taken at it's most elementary it draws upon the players innate creativity as shelters turn to houses, houses turn to cities (you can play on line in multi player mode to help facilitate this kind of enterprise). Exploration and exploitation are frequent arbiters of the settler's success in mastering his terrain and nerves of steel are required as players find themselves mining deep into the foundations of their homes on a quest for coal, iron and precious metals whilst trying to avoid annihilation at the hands of the forces of evil who occupy much of the sub strata of this otherwise green and peaceful land.
And here is a link to the Minecraft website, but think carefully before you download it!