Over the last couple of weeks, word has spread around the Internet about a new videogame called Minecraft—and how it represents a shift in digital entertainment.
Its graphics may look primitive to the layman—but the game itself is anything but primitive. Players use the game's natural resources—for example, a player can smelt metal (hence the Minecraft name)—to build just about anything they can think of. Numerous videos on YouTube feature players (almost all of them male, between the ages of 15 and 30) showing off their creations. And, boy, are they impressive: Mayan temples, roller coasters, functioning calculators and even a 1:1 model of the Starship Enterprise.
One hapless player was conducting a tutorial on how to construct a fireplace when he accidentally burnt down his painstakingly built house. That video's gone viral.
The buzz around Minecraft is due to the amount of creative juice it asks of players. The thrill of Minecraft comes not from slaughtering enemies, but from the reveal: that moment when you show off or discover something that has taken days or weeks to industriously construct.
The cynic might comment on the sheer waste of time it takes to build a life-size (albeit digital) monument to Star Trek, but world-creator games like Minecraft seem to fill a much-needed gap.
A recent article in The New Republic lamented the disappearance of unstructured play, thanks to a rise in overprotective parents. Maybe it's the offer of unbridled creativity that's attracting hundreds of thousands of video-game players.
—Nick Smith, Web Producer
The week on the Range
We brought you many tidbits about the Congressional District 8 race, including a look at new TV ads (Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords continues to make the case that Jesse Kelly's tax policies would hurt struggling families, while Kelly says that Giffords is weak on border security); details about this year's version of Republicans for Giffords; and the latest forecast on the race from stats wiz Nate Silver.
We also broke the news about a poll that showed Republican challenger Ruth McClung within single digits of Congressman Raúl Grijalva (find more details in The Skinny); linked to a New York Times story warning about the real possibility that cutbacks in our Colorado River supply might be on the horizon; and shared a CNN news story about how UFOs may be deactivating our nuclear weapons.
We uploaded videos of political debates, including the Arizona Illustrated throwdown between Democrat Felecia Rotellini and Republican Tom Horne, who are vying for Arizona attorney general; the fiery exchange between Republican Sen. Frank Antenori and Democratic challenger Todd Camenisch; and a Clean Elections three-way from the Legislative District 29 House race.
We shared a short film that documented the early days of downtown's Club Congress; a trailer for a documentary on the Tucson Unified School District's ethnic-studies program; and, in the spirit of Halloween, a grisly slideshow from the Tucson Screamers haunted house.
On the Chow beat, we celebrated the return of Rhino Pub and let you know you could find rattlesnake tacos at Boca. The Artistic Range featured work by Alexander Arshansky (at ART Gallery) and 4th Avenue in Focus (at Café Passe).
COMMENT OF THE WEEK
"If this keeps up, we will all be living the dream of running around in grass skirts and trading pretty rocks for food."
—Tracy Lin, via Facebook, in response to "Digging Delays" (Currents, Sept. 30), which details Rosemont Copper's struggle with Pima County over a proposed open-pit copper mine in the Santa Rita Mountains.
BEST OF WWW
If you don't know what "Nf3 Nc6" means, you might want to check out our video on TucsonWeeklyTV.com. This week, we profile Amanda Mateer, a Women's International Master chess champion, who explains her work with 9 Queens, a group that teaches chess to girls and at-risk youth.
Also new this week is the latest video in Mari Herreras' Tucson Meet Yourself series, which profiles the different people who perform, demonstrate or inform at the annual cultural festival. In this installment, she talks to a mother-daughter team who creates papel picado banderolas.