Hello and welcome to, what I hope will be, the first column of many on the phenomenon that is Mojang’s Minecraft. Fittingly, there aren’t many games out there more expansive than the hugely popular build-em-up, but I have something of a confession to make…

I never really understood the appeal of Minecraft.

Sure, I was well aware of its immense popularity across a myriad of platforms, and that popularity has led to me considering playing it on more than one occasion, but – more often than not – its popularity just left me wondering if the world had finally gone mad. Perhaps this was more to do with my curmudgeonly ways as a 36-year-old but, to me, the whole thing reeked of pixels and polygons coming in and stealing the jobs of Lego or Duplo blocks. The cliche of machines replacing humans on a smaller scale.

I asked myself “Why would anyone encourage that?”.

Then it clicked…

There I was in the kitchen one day, and I watched on as my son spent over an hour watching various Minecraft videos on YouTube. I watched him become transfixed by some pretty incredible feats of virtual architecture and excited by the possibilities that he would be able to explore, and it finally dawned on me.

This isn’t the death of imagination…its actually technology giving imagination the wings that I wish it had been given, when I was my son’s age. This was no longer a single castle being built with the limited number of blocks available in a single cardboard box. This was a whole world, no longer physically limited, but only limited by your dreams and imagination.

Of course, we rushed out and bought him the game for his Xbox 360. Somewhat ironically, the game was barely touched for the first month, as it was usurped in my son’s affections forLego Batman 2…yeah, go figure.

However, over time, he has slowly allowed himself to be drawn in again and quickly proven to be exceptionally adept at putting his imagination to good use. Only last week he beamed with pride as he showed me the houses he had built for himself and his sister.

Not my son's house, unfortunately, but close enough...

Not my son’s house, unfortunately, but close enough…

This was when I decided that it was maybe time for me to give the game a shot. Thankfully, this was also around the time that I was kindly offered the opportunity to write for Expansive, and this is why you’re now reading me ramble on about nothing in particular (of course, depending on your own opinion on Minecraft, maybe every column will read like rambling about nothing in particular).

In the next part of the series, you can rest assured there will be less rambling and more focus, as I cover the basics of Minecraft and get to grips with the controls, the game mechanics and the game’s various modes. (At this point, I should add that the column will originally be based on my experiences with the Xbox 360 edition, but may eventually transition to the PC version, which provides a larger scale, both in world size and the number of options available through player-created mods.)

Once I have mastered those basics, I hope you’ll join me in future weeks, where I’ll probably forget all the basics and make terrible replicas of various Glasgow landmarks.

Ummm...on second thoughts...

Ummm…on second thoughts…

I’ll also be delving into some of the DLC that has been made available in recent months, including the forthcoming Mass Effect/Minecraft mash-up.

In the meantime, you can check out the latest Minecraft news on Expansive DLC here, here and here.