Minecraft and the Uncensored Library: Background information when reading Sleepovers

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by Ashleigh Bryant Phillips

Sleepovers by Ashleigh Bryant Phillips X
Sleepovers by Ashleigh Bryant Phillips
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    Jun 2020, 193 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Elisabeth Cook
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Minecraft and the Uncensored Library

This article relates to Sleepovers

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Minecraft gameplay featuring blocky, pixelated human and animal characters The story "Mind Craft" in Sleepovers by Ashleigh Bryant Phillips is named for one character's incorrect way of referring to the video game Minecraft, which is a multi-platform "sandbox game," the term for a game that leaves the player relatively free to explore a setting without having to progress through it in a linear fashion. Minecraft is based around the simple idea of "mining" materials from various sources and then using those materials for construction. Known for its trademark blocky graphics and its virtually limitless possibilities for creation and exploration, it is one of the most popular games in the world and one of the best-selling video games of all time.

Minecraft was created by Swedish developer Markus "Notch" Persson of Mojang Studios and was released in a publicly available version for personal computers in 2009. Several updated versions followed, and it was officially released as a commercial game in 2011. Numerous spin-offs followed, including Minecraft Dungeons, Minecraft Earth and even an Education Edition that has been incorporated into classrooms. There are also many "mods," or options for altering and customizing gameplay. The game is now available for multiple platforms, including XBox, Nintendo Wii and Playstation. It can also be downloaded as an app for iOS or Android.

Minecraft has been described as a game with no rules, and referred to as a virtual version of Legos. As with Legos, the game is based around blocks that can be put together in different configurations. To "mine" blocks, players can make their characters break up certain materials, like dirt or wood, by punching them. These materials can then be used to make tools, which can in turn be used to build structures, mine more materials, make better tools and so on. While the game automatically generates unique worlds, there are certain features that all Minecraft worlds have in common. For example, the same basic materials are always present, the game includes "day" and "night" phases, and enemies are able to attack players at night. However, it is possible to put the game in "Creative" mode, which cuts out the "survival" requirements and allows players to simply focus on mining and creating.

Since its humble beginnings, Minecraft has not only become incredibly well-known and beloved globally, but has won many awards, including several BAFTA Games Awards, Games Developer Choice Awards and Kids' Choice Awards. It has also been influential in popular and online culture — there are over 100,000 YouTube channels devoted to the game. Many celebrities have mentioned that they play Minecraft, including the actor Jack Black, the pop star Lady Gaga, the actress Mila Kunis and the electronic musician Deadmau5. In March 2020, the nonprofit Reporters Without Borders used a Minecraft server to create the Uncensored Library, which allows users living in countries where journalism is often censored to access news articles online. Visitors to the Uncensored Library are presented with a map of the world from which they can select their country (or any other) and then read information about restrictions on the press there in addition to news articles that may not be accessible to them through any other means. The server housing the library has been accessed in 175 different countries.

The Minecraft soundtrack, a series of ambient soundscapes composed by Daniel Rosenfeld, has received significant critical and popular attention. When asked for her opinion of the game in the story "Mind Craft," the narrator struggles to think of what to say, and finally remarks, "The music is kind of relaxing."

Minecraft game cover, courtesy of Google Play

Filed under Cultural Curiosities

Article by Elisabeth Cook

This article relates to Sleepovers. It first ran in the June 24, 2020 issue of BookBrowse Recommends.

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