Minecraft, Muse

Jonathan Gourlay recreated a real house in the game Minecraft. And then wrote about it, beautifully.


Minecraft, for the unintiated, is a benign Swedish game that combines Atari-era visuals with the breakneck pace of ice fishing and the adrenaline rush of Minor League baseball. You pick up Lego-style blocks and use them to build any kind of shelter you want in order to avoid cute, hopping zombies. That’s it. It’s like watching chamomile tea steep.

But for some players, Minecraft inspires collaboration, creativity—and occasionally fascinating writing. Here’s Jonathan Gourlay, a University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop graduate-turned-linguist, on Sartre, parenting, and recreating “a memory in block form” in the game:

Most of what is around you right now is empty air. Yet, someone will insist on filling that emptiness with Taylor Swift music, especially if you happen to share your swath of emptiness with a nine-year-old girl. And if that little girl is suddenly absent, at a sleepover for instance, your walls will resound with the lack of “You Belong with Me.” The denuded trees in the front yard offer only bare ruined choirs where late the sweet tweens sang.

I sometimes carry with me the lack of a house I once lived in. Picture a house on a mountainside in the jungle overlooking the ocean. Picture a little girl peeing off of the second floor balcony every morning; claiming the world for her own. Now take the house away. Change the girl so that she faces the world from inside a room with the door closed and the YouTube Taylor Swift channel blaring. She could be in that room for hours while I retire to my computer, re-creating our old house in Minecraft, placing a waterfall on the balcony, trying to fill the emptiness with an approximation.

There’s more to Gourlay’s short, compelling tale. It’s worth reading in full; click here for the rest over at The Bygone Bureau.

Oh, and there are a ton of Minecraft-related videos out there, low-budget CGI and all. You can find most of them blogged about here on the Minecraft creator’s personal site.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.