The Empowering Experience of Minecraft

Image credit: Microsoft/Mojang
Image credit: https://minecraft.gamepedia.com/Grass_Block

Wait, what the hell is Minecraft?

Now I can only talk about what i’ve seen my son play, and that’s not everything as he is only 6 and is limited in the parts that are appropriate for him to play. Minecraft can be described as a “sandbox” game, where as a character you explore a blocky, computer generated world.

Image credit: https://minecraft.gamepedia.com
Image credit: https://www.planetminecraft.com/mod/mining-overhaul-forge-188-10-a002-/

Minecraft from a UX Designers perspective

There is no onboarding

Take care of those pufferfish! Image credit: https://minecraft.gamepedia.com/Pufferfish

“A user interface is like a joke. If you have to explain it, it’s not that good”. — Martin Leblanc

Of course there are always exceptions, but I feel a lot of designers don’t stop to ask themselves “does a product really need this?” before adding in the feature or following the popular pattern.

Everyone knows how to make a cake, right?! Image credit: https://www.digminecraft.com/food_recipes/make_cake.php
Chasing that elusive emerald ore. Image credit: https://minecraft.gamepedia.com/Emerald_Ore
Image credit: https://minecraft.gamepedia.com/Zombie
Photo credit: @BACKYENNEW/TWITTER
Image credit: https://education.minecraft.net/how-it-works/what-is-minecraft/

“Notch [the creator] hasn’t just built a game. He’s tricked 40 million people into learning to use a CAD program.” — Cody Sumter

Although this is not strictly true — it’s not a CAD program, I get what he means. And this is probably the area that gets me most excited. I’m an urban design geek. I love the idea that this is a tool that lowers the entry level to someone being able to design a shared public space, building or transport system. I love that the collaborative aspect of Minecraft allows everyone to do it, not just one person or city department, or someone with money. Amazingly there are already initiatives in progress to do this, most notabley the Block By Block project in cooperation with UN Habitat which allows participants to create real-world environments in Minecraft. This means residents can be included in the re-design of their environments — co-design at it’s most immersive and exciting!

Residents in Kalobeyei, Kenya use Minecraft to redesign a local environment that focuses on trees and walkability. Image credit: https://www.blockbyblock.org/projects/kalobeyei
Watch out for the lava! Image credit: https://minecraft.gamepedia.com/Lava
Beware the creepers! Image credit: https://minecraft.gamepedia.com/Creeper

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Laura Yarrow

Laura Yarrow

UX and tech geek. Observer of humans. Crisp connoisseur. Yarn fondler. Undercover Northerner.