The Minecraft Experiment, day 5: The Depths

Tom Francis at

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When I first started playing Minecraft a few months ago, I played with a rule: if I die, I have to delete the entire world. This is the fifth entry in the diary I kept of that experiment - the first is here.

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World 3, Deaths 2

I’ve heard a few people suggest Minecraft is a ‘waste of your life’. Generally, I think it’s weird that anyone would home in on a particularly creative game, over the average first person shooter, as being unproductive.

But if they’d made that suggestion while I was chipping out the huge cavern I had planned, block by painstaking block, I might have burst into tears, curled into a ball and said “I KNOW AND I CAN’T STOP.”

I realise all I’m doing is hitting blocks until they pop, but I’m not thinking about that. It’s like whacking kobolds in an RPG, but in Minecraft the reward you’re working towards is a creative vision in your head rather than a stat bribe for your character.

I do stop, partly out of frustration with how quickly my stone pickaxes are wearing out. I know it’s possible to make metal ones, but not how. In general, I like to hit my head against a problem for a while before pestering my Minecraft playing friends for answers, rather than binge on the (excellent) Minepedia and spoil all the game’s secrets.

Whatever the secret to finding metal, it probably involved mining downwards. But mining directly downwards is a bad idea: at the very least, I know this world contains armless exploding things and that dropping on their heads would be a bad idea. Normally I’d do it anyway, but with the whole world on the line - and an awesome cove-world at that - I wasn’t taking any chances. One painstakingly carved staircase please!

At some point my staircase hits an earthy patch, and I can hear running water. An underground river! The best thing possible! I start scrabbling out the dirt in every direction, trying to figure out which way I have to move for the sound to get louder. After burrowing left a little way, it seems to get quieter in every direction. Because I am stupid, it takes me a second to realise which way I need to dig to hit water. And then, because I am extremely stupid, I actually do it.

The second I whack the soil above me with my spade, a cubic metre of water falls on my head. I’m submerged, and because this earthy tunnel is irregularly dug, the current quickly traps me in an akward corner.

As my oxygen starts to tick rapidly down, I amend my ‘Don’t dig directly down' rule to include ‘Don’t dig directly up’.

Next:it gets worse.