I was always an adventurous builder when I was younger, making teetering towers out of TinkerTots or non-functioning roller coasters out of the Kinetix I would steal from my brother (sorry, Adam).
My hunger to be creative only blossomed as I grew up and had a better grasp on physics (if I add too many Legos on this side, my tower will fall down) or math (two 2x4 Lego pieces is the same as one 4x4 Lego piece!).
Whether it was from my weeks of begging or because they were tired of tripping over the Rube Goldberg machine I would attempt to build in the kitchen, my parents finally caved in to buying me a new game called Minecraft when I was 11.
The game was simple enough, my small fingers could easily hit the WASD keys with little issue, spin and click the mouse to block and swing with the sword, and hit the space key to jump. I remembered dying by the hands of a few zombies my first night and being so terrified when I respawned that I dug down into the grass and buried myself in a hole for the first few nights.
But, as sure as the sun rose the following day, I jumped out of my tiny 1x2 block square to continue on my quest of finding a sheep.
This, essentially, is the core of Minecraft. The simplicity of dying, respawning, finding all of your old tools, and seizing the day once again to achieve whatever quest was set for oneself during that day.
Minecraft taught me many things over the years of playing it, from creativity to how to remember certain crafting recipes, but, most importantly, it taught me how to be resilient. How to always bounce back when certain adversaries (whether that was homework stopping me from playing or a creeper in my chicken pen) start to weigh down.
During the end of middle school, I lost the ability to have fun while playing Minecraft. I tried to play to bring myself back to the happiness I once felt while playing, but the weight of feeling like I failed because I had to respawn held my shoulders down until I shut down my monitor for one final time. I had lost the resiliency that Minecraft had taught me.
Whether it was my maturation or slowly losing my creativity, I was pushed away from playing games like Minecraft because I had more important things to worry about, such as whether or not strangers like me, the properties of glucose, and how many teaspoons were in a cup.
It wasn’t until Minecraft had a resurgence on YouTube and across meme pages that I decided to start playing it again.
I booted up the first multiplayer Minecraft world I was ever a part of and felt the rush of nostalgia and, suddenly, I was just a middle schooler playing Minecraft again. Back when I didn’t have any big commitments or homework to focus on.
I looked around the world I spent months building, redesigning, and procuring to make it the best world. To make it the only world my friends ever wanted to build on.
There was the old mob spawner, which I don’t think I ever got working. A roller coaster, which was just a long strip of powered rails and a couple of redstone torches, but it stretched on for what felt like miles, connecting all of my friends in one swift movement. In front of it all was a house, my old house, made completely out of diamonds.
To my right was a bountiful melon farm I took weeks to grow, despite the fact our world was set to creative mode. My ten dogs were sitting in front of each row, sitting patiently, waiting for the day I would return to greet them.
To my left was the home of a friend I haven’t spoken to since the last time I logged off, telling her that I would see her, virtually albeit, tomorrow. Of course, this was our final night, and our hellos were never exchanged the next morning.
I was remembering all of these tiny details just as the soft piano of Sweden fades in, and I started to cry.
My tears weren’t happy, nor were they sad. They weren’t tears from being overwhelmed. They were something much more than that.
I know that Minecraft was nothing more than a few cleverly composed ones and zeros, made by some game developers in Sweden. Now, however, it means something much more than that.
The world I made when I was a resilient child was still just sitting there, unchanged, as I began my transition into the person I have become today.
Today, Minecraft the game is always changing, always evolving, adding new redstone contraptions I will probably never know how to use or adding a mineral stronger than diamond. However, these things mean nothing to me in comparison to the lessons the game taught me.
Growing up is hard. It feels as if the world is pushing forward, faster than I can keep up, but what I fail to realize is that I am pushing forward, as well.
Not being accepted into a dream school or failing a quiz seems to be a fate worse than death, but I know that I can always respawn, always bounce back, because of the resiliency Minecraft taught me. And I know that I can, once again, seize the day.