Minecraft is a well-known sandbox game that primarily consists of placing building blocks in a virtual platform world. Since its release back in 2011, Minecraft has recorded worldwide sales of 176 million units, making it one of the best-selling games of all time. But why has this simple building game become so profitable? Because it strengthens a part of the mind not often used: the creative mind.
Minecraft is a game that operates on a different level of creativity than most other games—the universe is created at the hands of the player. The player can build castles, ships and space ports in a virtually endless plot of cubic land mass. From waterfalls to giant socks, sandbox games like Minecraft allow the universe to be expanded at the whims of the player. In so doing, there are some limits to creation which help develop a more stimulating field. For instance, the entire world is constructed out of cubes, so a circle is difficult to construct. Also, the land is not completely flat, and each block placed starts another level.
With all those characteristics in mind, why do Minecraft and its other contemporaries attract young people? Like God, humans have a desire to create things out of what God has already given them (Genesis 1-2). While humans cannot start a world from scratch like God did, humans can make things within God’s universe. Essentially, Minecraft and its contemporaries offer a virtual reality of creating universes before our eyes. Just as they can in Walt Disney’s theme parks, in Minecraft, everyday humans can construct a magical place to enjoy and take pride in. As I discover how amazing my universe is on sandbox games, I want to share my creation with the rest of the world. God gave His universe to humans in the same way (Genesis 1-2), and humans want to give back. While most of our universes might never be realized, those dream worlds provide an ample breeding ground for other dreams to spark.
Why I personally love sandbox games, however, is because in them, I can play within my own imaginary worlds as if I were inside them. My universe is laid out exactly as I see it in my mind: the waterfall here, the dungeon there and the giant American flag spaceship there. A three-dimensional blueprint that can be seen from the perspective of a tourist, a live view, my universe can come to life. I see how painstaking it is to cut down trees and level ground. I spend hours subconsciously calculating how big I must make my giant pair of socks in order for me to include a three-story library in their arch. Then, I even barely tour my finished product before I think of something else that would totally go with my giant socks. The point is, my time spent in sandbox games is time spent as an architect of the universe—a universe on my iPad. This kind of game, for me, is as if I could go beyond the expectations of reality.