COLUMN: The danger of Minecraft’s hidden ideology

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Ian Palacios, Columnist

One idea that has permeated Western culture for thousands of years is the view that the world and all of its parts—the forests, the animals that live within them, the mountains that tower over us and the oil found deep beneath Earth’s surface—were made for us, and thus we can do with it as we please.

We see examples of this human-centeredness in our treatment of non-human animals who we objectify to satisfy our needs, whether it be breeding them to become living stuffed animals, tricking them into biting metal spikes (fishing), and farming them for their flesh. We see examples of this in our agriculture and fuel industries too that destroy our environment in order to maximize production.

One game that perfectly exemplifies this view of the world and our place in it is Minecraft, an open-world sandbox game with no set objective. The player chooses whatever they want to do.

In order to make progress in the game, the player must interact with the world’s natural resources to turn them into new items. Examples include cutting down trees to make shelter and tools, mining ores to create armor, and killing animals for food.

The starting character is a six-foot-two white male, and the only other human-like NPCs are “villagers,” a group of docile traders from whom the player can benefit by trading.

With these considerations in mind, and the fact that Minecraft is a game designed to entertain people, the world as we see it in Minecraft is designed for us. The horses are there to be transported, and the forests are there for wood.

Similarly, when new additions are presented in updates, the initial question everyone asks is, “How will this make my experience better?”

When bats, for example, are added to the game, we ask ourselves, “Sure the bats are nice, but what do they do for me?”

And though I have no issue with that attitude toward the game, we see this harmful ideology transfer over to the real world too. Unfortunately, we humans are not the main character, and the animals who share the planet with us were not created for us. They exist here independently as creatures who can experience pain and happiness, whose lives are valuable in and of themselves.

Similarly, forests are not created for human use either, though I doubt that trees have any moral status. To cut down our forests and pollute our atmosphere as if we are living in a sandbox world is dangerous.

Unlike Minecraft, we can’t make a new world when we ruin the old one, and our resources will run out. Unlike a Minecraft world, our animal companions are real, sentient creatures. So, do what you please in Minecraft (it is a gamer after all), but leave its ideology at the door.

Ian Palacios is a junior English and philosophy major. He can be reached at 581-2812 or impalacios.edu.