Creation has a powerful draw. From chiseling a statue out of a solid block of marble to rolling a pinecone in peanut butter and dipping it in birdseed, all ages and talents love taking raw materials and building them into something new. For years, Lego served as the perfect answer to this need to create but it has evolved and changed to serve a new market, creating a demand for simple construction that nobody realized was going unfulfilled until Minecraft quietly entered from stage left. It exploded in popularity as thousands of gamers found what they were missing: the excitement of creating and sharing something uniquely their own and a chance for their inner architect to step up and play a lower-case god.
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I heard that my dad was headed to Toys "R" Us to buy my little brother's birthday gift and I wanted to go along. Mom always listened to us and found great presents, but my brothers and I got excited when Dad was running late on his way home from work because we knew the only reason he wouldn't be on time for a birthday dinner was because he was going overboard looking for the perfect gift. I wanted to see the man in action.
The car ride was spent discussing our options. Aidan was turning six and had asked for Lego Batman for the Xbox 360 as a gift. Dad was ok with this but wanted to get him a real Lego set, something Aidan could create, break down, and recreate like I did at his age. We reached the Lego aisle and began the hunt. There were elaborate pieces of Star Wars X-Wings, a recreation of the boulder escape scene from Indiana Jones (complete with rolling boulder), and even a humungous recreation of Harry Potter's Hogwarts castle. Nothing jumped out at us. Dad summed up the problem: "These are cool, but they aren't any fun. They all look like they should be on a shelf, not on the floor. No chance for imagination." Lego no longer provided us with a throwback to the unrestricted creation of my childhood. They joy and ease of building unique creations was nowhere to be found.
Lego continues to grow and to become more impressive, but as it moves forward the simple joy of imaginative creation is left behind. The architect in each person needs the challenges, successes, and frustrations of working outside of any expectations and demands other than their own. Creators need to delve into the bizarre and find sense in the asymmetrical results of following whims and improvising for missing pieces. All crafters owe it to themselves to design and construct their personal dream house complete with swimming pools, arcades, and kung-fu dojos, and to share those creations with others. All of these needs are met or exceeded with the new construction set on the block, Minecraft.