My Brush with Minecraft Addiction

Continuing my string of posts about things that I wanted to talk about during my hiatus, following is a list of stuff that happened in the world of video games that I found interesting or noteworthy.  And addictive.  Horribly, horribly addictive.

A couple of months ago I was browsing Reddit, and I happened upon a submission about a game in its Alpha phase that people were absolutely salivating over.  I posted a comment about how I’d never buy a game in Alpha, because it’s bound to be bug-ridden or possibly never even finished.  I was ridiculed, but held fast to my opinion.

A few days later I was lurking around Reddit again, and looking through my message log.  I found my anti-Alpha post, and since I was bored, decided I’d check out the game’s website and possibly give it a try, if a demo was available.

That game, of course, was Minecraft.

And nothing, not even a lengthy stint with World of Warcraft, could have possibly prepared me for the vise that slowly wrapped itself around me as I loaded up the free, browser-based client and started playing around with it.

I moved around the game world.  I liked the blockiness of it.  Then I clicked and accidentally removed a block. Amazed, I did this several more times, and then figured out how to make blocks.  Looking at the vast landscape generated before me, I quickly realized that this was a game with almost limitless possibilities.

I spent the next hour or so building a massive tower with a door in the back that led to an underground tunnel.  Building was easy with infinite blocks and no enemies around.

Curious to learn more about this game, I checked out the feature set for the single player for-pay Alpha client.  The prospect of building massive structures with limited or mined resources sounded daunting, but I wanted more, so I quickly made the payment, took a quick moment to note my hypocritical nature, and then plunged into a gaming obsession that lasted for weeks.

By day, I dreamed up new and unusual ideas for structures to build, and by night, I built them.  I went from putting in a good deal of Team Fortress 2 almost every night to putting in a ton of Minecraft, exclusively.  I created a modest safe house, a massive network of mines, a two way mine cart system that went deep underground and underwater, a huge lighthouse, a giant stone skull carved into a mountain, and the beginnings of a second home, an underground lair with trees and deep shafts carved into the hillside above for light.  I even crafted a replica of Uncle Scrooge’s Money Bin.  Yes, I played a ton of Minecraft.

But then I just grew tired of it. I still had my massive plans for construction, and still had plenty of inspiration from the official Minecraft forums and Minecraft’s home on Reddit.  But I’d log in and I just didn’t want to spend hours and hours mining all that stone, moving mountains, and chopping wood.  To put it in short, I ran it into the ground.

I’m still looking forward to the October update, since it includes so much cool new stuff… but I’m otherwise pretty much over it.  I’ve got too many other games that I haven’t put much time in with yet, and I need to get them out of the way to make room for the holidays.


  1. Philip Gamble - Over a year ago

    I’ve had a couple of attempts at playing but haven’t tried too hard just in case I do get hooked. It seems to be the time-eating game of the moment.

    Seen some impressive stuff people have built but don’t think I would have the patience to get very far.

    1. Martin - Over a year ago

      Probably a good thing (especially as far as GMB is concerned, hehe). It’s fun if you’re into it, but bad if you value your free time, or simply have better things to do.

  2. xot - Over a year ago

    My reaction was like Philip’s. I haven’t played the alpha version but the free version didn’t resonate with me. It just seemed like so much busy work.

    Naturally, the correct response was to start playing a MMORPG.

    1. Martin - Over a year ago

      That’s how it ended up feeling to me too. It felt good to actually survive a whole night the first few times, and then it felt good to mine rare stuff and actually make things with it. But then my projects started becoming more and more massive and I lost focus, and it ended up feeling like a virtual job. That’s not how I like to spend my game time!

  3. Anokorok - Over a year ago

    I got hooked for a week and just got bored of it one morning with a massive list of stuff I still wanted to create and do.

    Even with the patience of a pixel artist, there’s so much work involved mining resources and placing blocks. I rather spend my leisure time pushing pixels for games other people can enjoy as well as for myself.

    Minecraft’s still fun in small amounts. It’s when you want to make bigger projects like a massive glass dome or a mountain sculpture that you really start to feel the grind.

    1. Martin - Over a year ago

      I agree. That’s also when you start questioning yourself about it – do you really want to spend the next two hours mining out a huge room just so you can build a massive structure that may or may not turn out right?

      And then the next day you log into the Minecraft forum or Reddit, and you see projects that people have done that you could never hope to find the time to do. And you’re done with it.

  4. Joshua Brookover - Over a year ago

    Congrats on breaking the spell.

    1. Martin - Over a year ago

      Hehe, thanks! I didn’t feel quite as good as when I quit WoW for the second time, but it was still a good feeling to look at my computer the next day and know I wasn’t going to sit down for another marathon Minecraft session!

  5. Katryna - Over a year ago

    I agree with you. I love minecraft but playing on singleplayer in alpha got old fast..its not like anybody could see my creations even when I did do them! It got really tiring playing alone.
    Now with the new beta update though, it is much easier to play on a server. That gives the game a whole new life, because you arent playing alone. You can have help in big projects, and other people can appreciate your stuff.
    Its especially fun because on the server I go to (where Im an admin), you can spawn items, so thats theres not as much grind involved in getting the materials.

  6. Sarker - Over a year ago

    Hey Marty :)

    ador862 from GMC :P Though I doubt it would ring a bell.
    I’m totally hooked on Minecraft too atm, serious timesink. The simplicity and grand design really is addictive. Hope you at least tried out building farms and other mechanisms before going off it :P

    By the way, just wanted to tell you, I really enjoy all your work, and I’ve decided to include links to this blog and Reflect Games on my website too :)

  7. david - Over a year ago

    well, this is a little old but… to give you an idea of how long i’ve been playing, my version of minecraft said “pre-alpha” when i first bought it. I still play, LOTS, everyday. very rarely do i do multiplayer. I don’t build for others, i build for myself. As to losing intrest, i think it’s the “ocd generation” or tv babies that have this problem. everything must keep stimulating the person or they lose intrest. I build, farm, and mine for the sake of doing those things, no other reason is needed. Since notch started supported mods, i’ve been playing with those too. so for me, the game is still as much fun now as when i first “got wood”.

  8. Mom - Over a year ago

    My 12 yr old was addicted. I didn’t catch on for months bec it seems like such a productive game. But then grades slipped. As turned into Ds and Fs. Pictured, writings, thoughts and talk were mostly about minecraft. I cut him off completely when I caught him sneaking on and lying about it.
    He got so mad he ran out the door. I had to go in search of him. He is devastated.
    Yes…. It’s an addiction. And this mom is shutting it off. Two days later he’s showing signs of his old self again. And he’s going in at recess on his own initiative to get caught up in school. We might minecraft later, but only until he can prove he can do it with balance.

    1. Dad - Over a year ago

      We have a 11 year old who has been playing the game for 4
      Months. Started off an hour or two per day, but quickly turned into as many hours as possible especially when we weren’t looking. At nights he would stay up watching YouTube minecraft videos. Grades started slipping.

      We unplugged all computers and banned all mobile devices. It’s been 6 days of Hell. Let me tell you, I could swear my kid is withdrawing from crack. He has had explosive tantrums, crying incessantly. And he has regressed into the state of a two year old. Minecraft should be called minecrack. Pull the plug before it’s too late.

      Concerned Dad

  9. Concerned Mom - Over a year ago

    Concerned Dad, I could have written your post, except we haven’t completely pulled the plug yet. We’ve been trying to limit it to one hour a day and I must say, it’s HELL ON EARTH. The tantrums, meltdowns, screaming when its time to get off. He is practically suicidal at times (my life sucks without minecraft, I don’t know what to do with myself when I’m not playing it). I’m lost. I actually contacted a psychologist and am waiting for his reply.

    People joke about it but video game addiction is actually real. My son is only 10. He had ADHD and video games are very appealing for kids like him because they engage him completely.

    If you want to email me to bounce ideas off of each other, Good luck!

    1. Martin - Over a year ago

      You know, I wish I could give some advice for how to put an end to your son’s Minecraft addiction, but unfortunately (as I explained above) I just snapped out of it, and with no definitive reason why.

      I assume it was because the productive side of me started getting anxious to do more than build with blocks. But it’s hard to inspire that kind of ambition in a teenage kid who is still probably struggling with the idea (or probably he hasn’t even thought about it yet!) of what he wants to do with his life.

      Maybe if you introduce other things to him that he might find similar joys in, like creating models? Or even light wood-working, where simple tools are involved? It might be a good way to get him away from the computer for a while without making him feel like he’s wasting time, and it could have the added benefit of giving you time to talk to him and teach him things. Not an approach for everyone, obviously, but hey, might be worth a shot!

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