ByDana Lynne Abeln, writer at Creators.co
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Dana Lynne Abeln

If you're like me, people poke fun at you for playing too many video games and "wasting your life." While they're not completely wrong, they're not right either. Everyone needs a little downtime from the daily grind but how we choose to spend that time says a lot about us as individuals. There are aspects of video games that I can't get in real life. Things that I, as a creative dreamer and quite frankly, a nonsensical person, just find lackluster in reality.

That's where open world games like Minecraft come in; I'm completely free to go anywhere, build anything, and destroy everything. Lewis Carroll said it best in his book, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass, "If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense."

Unlike Alice, real life doesn't have some magic rabbit hole you can crawl into whenever you're having a bad day but I do have worlds of my own; several of them in fact. Depending on what's going on in my life or if I just want to start over for shits and giggles, Minecraft gives me options that I can't get anywhere else. From the cold tundra of the north to the deserts in the south, I can travel to either within minutes and still have time to go hunting for ocelots in the jungle or go apple picking in the forest. Nothing makes this crazy cat lady happier than taming hundreds of ocelots to form a cat army!

The Benefits Of Open World Games

Wonderland (www.youtube.com/watch?v=zBObU2OU5Hs)
Wonderland (www.youtube.com/watch?v=zBObU2OU5Hs)

I'm an average person, I have a nine to five job and two wonderful fur babies at home; I'm well on my way to truly achieving that crazy cat lady status! Before that I was a full-time student and worker. I struggled to save enough money to pay my way through college, let alone be able to save enough money to travel and see the world. I'm a naturally curious person and I always have that itch for traveling. The problem is, it's not feasible for a young twenty-something to travel the world and acquire an education. Nowadays, it's still tough. A typical nine to five job only allows so many days off in a year. Visiting a place digitally may not be the same as seeing it in real life but it does sate some of that hunger for travel and more.

I remember the first structure I built in Minecraft; it was a giant pyramid in the desert. Since I was a child, I had always dreamt of visiting Egypt one day and seeing the Great Pyramids for myself. Once I had made all of the pyramids, something magical happened: I realized that not only could I visit these places digitally, but I could make them my own. From there I birthed my very own desert city into existence...

I know, it pales in comparison to everything else!
I know, it pales in comparison to everything else!

Once you delve deep into the mechanics of the game, you can create anything. I made gladiator arenas, in which I actually battled other players, formed a small farming village for no other reason than I just wanted to farm.

How Video Games Can Cure Actual Melancholy

Beyond just the thrill of building fantasy worlds, there were times when Minecraft allowed me emotional catharsis as well. Like most twenty somethings, I grew up in a small town in the Great Plains region of the U.S. so sometimes, when I was extremely sick of the harsher climates of New York, I would log into Minecraft just to roam around in the plains biome the game offered. I oftentimes felt immense comfort in wandering around there and that's something I couldn't get anywhere else.

Then there is, perhaps, the greatest aspect of a sandbox, open world game, and that is building places that the real world could never offer. Think of your favorite fantasy or sci-fi franchise. Now, imagine if you could actually go there digitally and interact with the world. Take Game of Thrones for example, some fans actually built the entire continent of Westeros! You can go from Winterfell all the way to the farthest reaches of Dorne. Because of the giant nerd that I am, I downloaded a whole new launcher just to be able to play in this fictional world. It's so huge that the normal Minecraft launcher can't load it properly due to special blocks that make the world more authentic.

As if the special blocks weren't enough, this map is gigantic! King's Landing alone can't be seen fully unless your computer can handle the highest render distance without crashing. It's well worth it, regardless of if your computer can handle it.

King's Landing in Westeroscraft
King's Landing in Westeroscraft

There's something special about visiting all of your favorite sites within the map and interacting within them as if you were there during the books and show. You really can't appreciate The Wall until you stand on top of it looking down into the wilds or experience the awe of exploring Winterfell for the first time and seeing where the Starks grew up.

Winterfell in Westeroscraft
Winterfell in Westeroscraft

Even though it's digital, walking through the lands of Westeros in Minecraft is exactly the kind of experience you can't get in real life. Sure, I could visit the various places the show filmed at, but there is CGI and sets that make the world you see on screen as well, and you could never get the full experience because of that. It's about walking through Braavos and knowing that this is Braavos, not Venice, Italy. Both similar places, but still a completely different history and culture. Not to mention the fact that one is real and the other entirely fictional.

Sunspear, Dorne.
Sunspear, Dorne.

What's wrong with wanting to be able to set sail from King's Landing on my little rowboat and sail all the way down to Dorne? Imagine starting in Winterfell and riding your horse all the way down to King's Landing just like they did in A Game of Thrones. There's no other way to experience that sort of adventure without spending a wagon-load of money and a few months in the actual wilderness with a horse (oh you know, and actually having survival skills to pull that off). I don't know about you, but I don't have the time, money, or stamina to do something like that in our day and age.

Minecraft Fulfills Every Fantasy

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TIh1fxlqIoY
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TIh1fxlqIoY

Minecraft can literally take you anywhere you wish to go. As long as it's within your imagination, you can build it or find someone who already has. Maybe you're not a fantasy fan and prefer sci-fi. With the latest Star Trek movie coming out soon, you could board the U.S.S. Enterprise! Other than a few set visits, there is no actual ship for you to explore... Unless you play Minecraft.

Above is a to scale version of the U.S.S. Enterprise but it's not the only one of it's kind; There are quite a few downloadable maps for any ship you want to board and you're just a few clicks away from sitting in that captain's chair! I remember as a child watching Star Trek: The Next Generation with my father. It was our favorite show to have father/daughter time with because we were both huge sci-fi nerds. I remember the look on his face the moment I showed him that someone had actually built the U.S.S. Enterprise in game. He was almost more ecstatic than I was! Nothing beats being able to go exploring with your father through your favorite fandoms.

There are thousands of downloadable maps for any genre or franchise you want to explore. You can get lost for days in the YouTube ether just looking up videos of the best maps. So, while gaming might not be for you, it can still be beneficial to one's creativity and curiosity. It's one of the best ways to spend time with family and you can do that together or thousands of miles apart. There's no right or wrong answer to how someone spends their downtime but the next time you relax on that sofa to watch TV, consider going on an adventure instead...just try not to take any arrows to the knee.