This article considers Minecraft, one of the most widely played and popular video games of all time, with over 100 million copies sold. Minecraft is an open-ended strategy game about material logistics, governance, and world building. It is also about a nostalgic modernity that players desire and produce but that is everywhere complicated by the very conditions of its production. Drawing on the work of Bernhard Siegert, Svetlana Boym, Raymond Williams, James C. Scott, and Chandra Mukerji, we consider the block-, grid-, and code-level cultural techniques associated with playing the game as allegories for our increasingly complex relationship to digital culture. Minecraft is not the apotheosis of cultural domination by code as much as it is a playable parable about its complications.
Childhood’s End (or, We Have Never Been Modern, Except in Minecraft)
Bart Simon is associate professor of sociology and cofounder and director of the Milieux Institute for Arts, Culture, and Technology at Concordia University in Montreal. His areas of expertise include game studies, science and technology studies, and cultural sociology.
Darren Wershler is the Concordia University Research Chair in Media and Contemporary Literature and the founder of the Residual Media Depot. With Lori Emerson and Jussi Parikka, he is writing The Lab Book: Situated Practice in Media Studies.