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Ben Hornsby Ben Hornsby
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'Minecraft:' A gay old time

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Is there any reason for me to write this? I don't know what the hell I'm going to say about 'Minecraft' today, four years (if not more!) after its original release, that a hundred people haven't already said.

Why did they call it a beta for so long? It was never a beta. I know, I wasn't there. But I saw screenshots, and they were white-hot. The whole thing was white-hot from day one. I was seeing them on my parents' computer, though, which wasn't the kind of thing I wanted to try to play 'Minecraft' on. Now, I am rich; now, I am typing on a computer of my very own; now, I am playing the 'Minecraft' beta on my Xbox 360.

It's great. It really is. What a great game. If you're any given person, there's a pretty good chance that I hate literally every single thing that you like, but man, 'Minecraft' is a hell of a thing. How many thousands of words are there that say this? Probably thousands of thousands of them! It makes sense; there's nothing else to say. Let's say something ridiculous, then:

Jim and I built our first little sand hut on our first night when the monsters started coming out. It was really dark inside and it was really scary outside; we needed some beds so we could go to sleep. One of us made a workbench, and one of us used that to make an oven, and one of us started burning something. Our two ridiculous-looking characters stood stiffly facing each other over the tiny flame in the dark room as the game's sweetly sad music played, and we realized that we were going to have to keep our beds side by side.

We began fleshing out the gender roles of our unambiguously gay Minecrafters immediately. I would grab the pickaxes and trot off towards my network of holes in the ground one morning; three mornings later I'd climb back out, beaten and rich, to discover that Jim had constructed a flowered path, added a fenced-in garden, and constructed a 'Home Sweet Home' sign on the front of our now two-story house. I didn't even know you could make signs, man.

We lost that world, because this dumb game doesn't auto-save and sometimes it just crashes with no warning. But our second world progressed even more quickly. We built our house on a floating island; I would dig around, placing torch-beacons at my tunnel entrances so I could orient myself later from atop my sky-house. One day I returned home to see that my partner had blanketed the countryside with torches so he could cultivate his forest at night. These dumb torches on these dumb cubes in this dumb game really do look fantastic at night.

Look, I'm not saying that I thought the two of us standing on top of our monolithic floating tower and gazing down at a continent of torches in the middle of the night was romantic, and I'm not saying I cried, and I'm not saying that I'm about to come out in the middle of an article in The Maine Edge (hi, Dad). I'm just saying that 'Minecraft's' chunky, dumb little rules managed to build a really entertaining, fascinating, inexplicably progressive narrative. Our two 'Minecraft' Men make up what is hands-down the dumbest videogame romance I've ever seen; it is also hands-down the most weirdly authentic.

So, yeah. I'm finally playing 'Minecraft,' and it's even better than I thought it would be. It will definitely take me at least a hundred more hours to start finding things to hate about it (though I'm pretty sure they're there).

four stars out of four 

Ben Hornsby recommends Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days.'

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