Minecraft — master builder critical play

For this critical play, I played the Minecraft minigame Master Builder in the Mineplex server. For this game, 8 people are given the same prompt and 5 minutes to build that prompt. After the 5 minutes, all the players go through the different builds that each has made and vote on how well each person did (not including their own build), which decides the winner after all of the builds have been looked at.

The theme of this game is to creatively build something, within the larger creative pixelated world that Minecraft has already developed. A mechanic that they implement is putting each player into their own separate “room” to build something based on the theme. The dynamic that this produces is that each player is building the best thing that they can in the short amount of time, without knowing what anyone else is doing. This will incentivize them to build to their best possible ability because they cannot actively compare themselves to what other people are doing as they are building to scale up or down their building ability accordingly. The aesthetic that this mechanic creates is one based in competition because each person is actively working to one-up the other people by showing off their skills.

This game differentiates itself from others in the genre because of the type of building that is allowed. You are restricted to using cubes rather than the fluidity that drawing or molding clay allows. It also allows for people to build in 2 or 3 dimensions. Watching players approach the build, some made a 3d moose and some made a 2d moose face when approaching the prompt.

Abuse was not greatly prevalent when I played because the chat function was turned off. People simply voted on other’s art by placing different colored cubes that aligned with certain positive or negative sentiments. There were notes displayed at the top of the screen which informed players that they should vote fairly to maintain the integrity of the game, but in the end you could not see who was voting or how on a particular person’s work. The scores were displayed at the end without a specific breakdown of votes. It also only showed the top 3 places out of the 8 total, presumably to ensure that people that placed lower would not feel bad about getting last or all bad votes.

From this critical play, I was able to learn a little bit about how you can create voting systems within a game. Another thing that I noticed was that they particularly called the prompts “themes” so that it was much more open ended. In my second round of playing, I was given the theme “batman”, which was a little more open ended about what I could build whether that was the person, the logo, Gotham, etc. I think this is a good thing to think about when developing different prompts for our game. Everybody has different abilities to craft things, so having more open ended things that leave room for interpretation may make the prompts more approachable by players.

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