I love Minecraft. I was a latecomer to the game, only playing for the first time just over two years ago, but my tardiness had its benefits: everyone else had learnt how to play the hard way, so right from the off I had people to teach me the tricks of the trade. Always carry a water bucket. Never go to the nether in full enchanted armour. Mine at Y=12 if you want to find diamonds (and it is 12 – not 10 or 11 or whatever you scrubs mine at).
Unfortunately I can’t use that insult with any integrity because, confession time, I am a scrub. TLC will never love me. I’m good at think-y games, but anything that requires a decent reaction time is going to have me spinning in circles and blowing myself up with a sticky grenade. So when the latest patch for Minecraft was labelled the ‘combat update’ I was less than thrilled. I play this game to chill out, fool myself into thinking I’m being productive while actually watching TV, and sometimes build a giant obsidian penis on top of someone else’s base. It’s much harder to relax and giggle about your alarmingly childish sense of humour when the very sound of skeleton archers brings you out in a cold sweat.
Of course, I could just play creative mode, but despite being someone who spends most of their free time gaming, I’m actually semi-sociable. I like to play on a server with other people. I like to see what they’ve built, I like to go on adventures together and fight over loot, I like to laugh at them when they fall in lava. Plus, finishing a build is a lot sweeter when you’ve had to make several hour-long trips out to find the right biome for the wood you want. It feels earned.
Unfortunately, new combat mechanics were the least of my worries. After loading the patch, I joined my realm to discover, horrified, that my texture pack no longer worked, transforming the entire world around me. The Tudor-inspired mansion I’d been painstakingly crafting now looked like a child’s rendering of a supermax prison. I disliked it so much that I didn’t even take a screenshot, so instead here’s my boyfriend’s terrible tiled flooring, which looked awful either way. (Rust red and grey? What is this, a tasteful torture chamber?)
So, like any sensible person, I ragequit, started a single-player game, and begrudgingly decided to learn the new mechanics. It didn’t go well. In the words of probably not OneRepublic, everything that hurts me makes me lose my stuff – not that my stuff was hugely valuable at this point anyway. I decided to make the most of things by getting to The End, because I’ve mentioned before that I don’t do well in games without a specific objective in mind, so giving myself one made me feel slightly better about everything. Unfortunately, getting to The End requires diamonds, a nether portal, a nether fortress, many ender pearls, and preferably a looting sword, which means levels and books and basically just lots of time and effort. This was beginning to feel like a lot of work.
Thing is, without the texture pack everything was unfamiliar to me. It was almost like playing the game again from the start. At one point I lost three diamonds because I didn’t realize I had a stone pickaxe equipped instead of an iron one, and barely a few minutes later I suffocated under some gravel because I didn’t realize what it was. GRAVEL. It brought back uncomfortable memories of the first time I played Minecraft, when I screamed because a spider fell on my head out of nowhere. Death by gravel felt infinitely more humiliating.
I did manage to earn myself the nickname Lawnmower for my remarkable ability to hit grass with my sword. This was usually accompanied by cries of “Nerf Skeleton Archers 2k14!” – unaware I was yelling the wrong year, it would seem that my subconscious desperately wanted to return to a time when those things didn’t ruthlessly slaughter me while I flailed at them wildly. I preferred it when my wild flailing actually got results.
Eventually I began to see some occasional results, and I finally earned my Monster Hunter badge about an hour or two in. Anyone who’s played Minecraft probably knows how achievements can take an age to register, even if you technically earned them right at the start of the game, sometimes for reasons that make sense, sometimes not. This time, however, I like to think it had something to do with the fact I killed a zombie just as the sun was rising. I swiped right, he gave off some hearts. There was a sheep in the background. It was magical.
This would have been a good time to call it quits. Instead I spent another four hours trying to get to The End. I was killed many times by creatures I used to slay effortlessly and eventually lost all my stuff in a cave. I found out about half an hour after my second ragequit of the day that my texture pack could still be used, sporting only minor glitches, and that clicking slightly more slowly while holding the newly introduced shield actually makes killing skeleton archers, well, still pretty difficult for a scrub like me, but something I’m sure I’ll get used to. I was going to make an insightful comment about The End not justifying the means, or the journey being more important than the destination but I’m tired so, to conclude, I just came here to have a good time and I’m honestly feeling so attacked right now.