5 Lessons Playing Minecraft in Hardcore Taught Me About Life

Ah, video games.  Most of them, I’m easily bored with, as they either force me through a story, or have no story and pointless objectives, and I get easily lost and don’t care.  Then there’s Minecraft.  That silly little eight-bit sandbox revolution that seems to have taken over the world.  Thank you, Notch and Mojang.  At first, I loved Creative mode.  Build whatever you want.  Make it look as cool as you want.  And funny enough, my new venture into the realm of the Hardcore world setting has taught me, or at least reminded me, of a few things about life.

1.  Applied knowledge is power.  If you don’t know the mechanics of the game, you will die, and Hardcore is not a game mode to play on.  Only one life.  No reset, no respawn, and no in-world cheats.  Which means absolutely everything, from your first wooden ax, to roads, bridges, walled villages, and castles, must be built by gathered resources.

IRL:  Never stop learning.  There’s always a way to get better, no matter the craft or profession, no matter the goal.

Well, the beginnings of an armory is better than no armory.
Well, the beginnings of an armory is better than no armory.

2.  Protection is vital.  Especially with the latest combat update, it now takes a bit of strategy to fight monsters, and spawn rates in Hardcore mode are higher than usual.  Fortunately, monsters only spawn in dark places and at night.  So, don’t get trapped outside at night, and if you do, have enough food, and know how to avoid a fight.  Also, obtain armor as soon as possible, so that mining excursions are not as troublesome.

IRL:  Some situations are dangerous.  Know that going in, or don’t go in, if you’ve got the option.  If there is no option (like walking into a dark cave in an attempt to find better resources) know what possible pitfalls lie ahead.  Zombies, skeletons, witches, lava lakes, stupid people, critics, haters, etc.  Take necessary precautions, and proceed anyway.

3.  Preparation is key.  Day 1 means everything.  Gather seeds and wood, start a farm, and dig into the nearest hillside to start a shelter, and if at all possible, find wool, and craft a bed.

A well-stocked larder never hurts, either.
A well-stocked larder never hurts, either.

Sleeping at night can prevent monsters from spawning if you sleep soon enough.  Then begin the real work of gathering a steady supply of resources close to base.

IRL:  Eat well, get enough sleep, and provide for your physical needs (including medical care.  Remember the Ring of Sustenance?  It’s still working, peeps.)  Don’t neglect yourself.  Yes, death may be an extreme case, but it can happen.

4.  Altering the environment to suit your needs isn’t cheating.  There’s a way to customize a world in Minecraft so that resources such as coal, ores, and diamond, spawn at different rates and places than the default setting.  I’ve never found this necessary, or even fun, in Survival mode, but with infinite lives, and the ability to turn on game mode switching cheats to build whatever you want, who needs to?  In Hardcore, however, diamond is the best you can get, and also the rarest and most likely to die obtaining.  So I altered the world to produce more of it.  It’s helped so far.

I had to be sure I didn't fall and die. Totally worth it.
I had to be sure I didn’t fall and die. Totally worth it.
Built a mob spawner, too. Now I safely farm experience, though the build was terrifying.
Built a mob spawner, too. Now I safely farm experience, though the build was terrifying.








IRL:  Our circumstances may suck, but they’re not immutable.  Even if we just change little things – sometimes as simple as how much water we’re getting a day, or whether we eat at regular times – we can alter our circumstances to better suit our own needs.  (I’m serious about the water thing.  Dehydration is an energy zapper.)

5.  Building stuff yourself is so much more satisfying.  Every image in this post comes from the world I’ve described.  I mined and crafted every block in the constructions myself.  There’s something about knowing that I had to gather those resources (or in the case of the glowing armor in number two, loot it from dead mobs and repair it) and build it all.  I had to lure the cows and sheep into their pens, and find the seeds to plant the farm.  Wheat is easy.  Just break some grass.  The pumpkin was pure luck getting lost on the way back from a village.  Melon, also luck upon looting a chest.

IRL:  I often forget how satisfying it is to genuinely accomplish something.  Just the other day, I finally removed the last sticky note from a timeline draft on my living room wall (yes, I don’t have an office.  What are you going to do about it?) and plugged the information into the timeline software on my computer.  Until that point, the day, was going meh.  Yet once that last crumpled, pink piece of sticky paper fell into the rubbish bin, I grinned.  I’d done SOMETHING.  It’s amazing how that feels.

Yes, for some folks, Minecraft is just a silly video game made of blocks, and rendered in ridiculous eight-bit style.  For me, it’s a reminder that life’s worth it.  Strange, I know, but we all have those things that remind us to take life a day at a time, and just keep going.  What can I say?  I’m a gamer.  Just not everyone’s kind of gamer.

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