By nature, video games are fairly competitive. Most of them require a player to play a finite number of levels or complete a quest in order to finish the game. Many games offer an alternative way for players to “beat” the game called a mod or “modification”. Mods are usually developed by fans of a particular game and can be as basic as reskinning the appearance of all characters with different colours, or as complex as adding an entirely new storyline and set of missions.
In some cases, mods may even change the software code at the very core of the original game’s functionality which means once those changes have been made they cannot be undone without starting a fresh copy of that game.
Minecraft is one of many games with a large modding community, but what sets Minecraft apart from other games in the same category is how much its modders can change just by altering the game’s existing code. Even without reskinning or adding new features, Minecraft has several modes that allow for entirely different game experiences including mods that turn it into an FPS or even allows for building spaceships out of blocks. There are even projects to make emulations of classic video games within Minecraft. This ability to create alternate gaming experiences through mods gives players endless replay value because there are always new possibilities waiting to be discovered.
One particularly popular area of modification is the recreation of specific technological artefacts, or “crafters”. Crafters are programs that turn the original game into Minecraft-themed versions of popular video games, or classic computers like the Apple II. For example, one mod turns Minecraft into an 8-bit version of Super Mario Bros., while another one turns Minecraft into something like an old-fashioned computer interface where users can edit code and control a virtual CPU with basic commands.
Minecraft’s mods offer many possibilities for players looking to create custom gaming experiences, but even without mods technically anyone is free to play it however they want. The game has no set goal, no way to actually “beat” it, so players are allowed to develop their own goals and playstyles. Minecrafters have created countless player-made games within the game. For example, Minecraft includes a “Creative Mode” that allows players to explore and build the landscape of the game without worrying about monsters or resources; it’s essentially an enhanced version of The Sims. Many players use Creative Mode as an opportunity to develop large cities and/or intricate art pieces, not unlike those found in Sim City or Spore.
But even with such open-ended gameplay possibilities, there are still genres and sub-genres of gameplay that Minecraft leaves virtually untouched – there’s no sign of an internet casino, poker or even VR integration, perhaps for a reason.
Minecraft has no real PVP (Player vs. Player) modes. This isn’t necessarily surprising considering PVP combat often requires a completely different set of skills that is required for building. If two players were to engage in a PVP fight, both would be focused on maximizing their attack potential and reducing the other player’s defence. In Minecraft, however, one of the most important skills is the defence: keeping out monsters from attacking you while you’re building. So rather than learning two distinct sets of skills that have almost nothing to do with each other, most Minecrafters prefer to work together with friends or even complete strangers to build a shared environment.
Minecraft is also lacking any kind of competitive multiplayer mode. There are no team-versus-team battles or anything resembling deathmatch play. This is true throughout most games within the sandbox genre because many players find it too difficult for one player to keep track of every single player in the battle, especially when they are in different locations.
But Minecraft has only been out for six years (first released to the public on May 17 th, 2009), and since then there have still been several games that compete with it by including features like competitive PVP combat or team deathmatch modes. Spore (released August 2008) is one of these “competitors”, letting players act as gods building creatures, controlling them in simulated ecosystems, and even engaging in PVP battles with other organisms. Dwarf Fortress (released 2006) allows you to build an entire civilization within its procedurally created world while also having the ability for players to attack each other’s bases. You can build homes, castles, towns