Social Gaming: Making Minecraft a game for everyone

This article is part of a collaboration with iQ by Intel. Defying the stereotype that paints gaming as an isolating hobby, Minecrafters use the virtual world as a means of connecting with family and friends in real life. Minecraft (2009) has redefined social gaming for nearly a decade, driven mostly by prolific online communities of creative people. A growing population of Minecrafters is harnessing the power of portable computer technology to interconnect in new ways, bringing their creativity in the digital world into reality. Aside from a thriving community of modders who build upon each other’s work to achieve incredible feats, a huge…

Great Fire of 1666

Great Fire of London recreated in Minecraft, complete with blaze

Header image: © Museum of London, created by Blockworks. /// The history of a city is littered with fires. Smaller ones that take down neighborhoods and large-scale disasters that change the landscape. The Great Fire of London in 1666 was such a fire. It destroyed the medieval City of London, incinerating the homes of 70,000 of the City’s 80,000 inhabitants. The fire was so bad, one of the factors credited to its quenching was the Tower of London garrison using gunpowder to halt the spread east. Your fire has gotten out of hand when you have to fight it with gunpowder.…


The mixed reality mods that are changing Minecraft

This article is part of a collaboration with iQ by Intel. More than 20 million people use their imaginations to create endless virtual worlds in Minecraft (2009). Unlike most games, however, players (rather than developers) push the boundaries of Minecraft’s expansiveness. They build everything from virtual voxel versions of the Taj Mahal to the entire country of Denmark, replicas of things that exist in the real world but can be shared and modified in world of Minecraft. “The Minecraft community brings together coders, artists, musicians and content creators from all over,” said Razz, a modder best known for her decorative block models. Razz said many…


Documentary outlines how Cities: Skylines is being used to plan real cities

Having enjoyed a brief sneak-peek at Austin, Texas’ SXSW art and technology festival last weekend, My Urban Playground is an upcoming documentary from game publisher Paradox Interactive that tells the story of popular city-building game, Cities: Skylines (2015), and the fans who are using it to plan real-world architecture projects. Set over the two years leading up to and following the game’s release, the documentary is planned to cover how architects, politicians, and fans of the game have come together to create new real-world building initiatives. Additionally, the film will also feature interviews with United Nations development group UN-Habitat, which helps struggling…


The AI being forced to climb Minecraft’s highest hills

Somewhere in Microsoft’s New York offices right now, an artificial intelligence is busy repeatedly trying and failing to climb a hill in Minecraft (2011), as if a modern day reenactment of the Sisyphus myth. This AI is being watched by a team of five computer scientists, and its many deaths are being meticulously recorded. Its name is Project AIX, and it’s part of a new open source initiative from Microsoft to advance not only games, but artificial intelligence as a whole. It’s a project not dissimilar to the one going on at Germany’s University of Tübingen entitled Social Mario, the concept of which…


How depth-sensing technology is changing videogames

This article is part of a collaboration with iQ by Intel. For anyone who has tried to get down to a catchy pop song while holding a controller during a round of Just Dance, or missed a clutch tennis shot because the Wii didn’t sense the swing, hands-free depth-sensing technology is a saving grace. When players can control a game using gestures and a computer that “sees” like a human, the options become a whole lot more interesting. Enter Intel’’s RealSense camera, which allows users to do everything from change their background during a video chat to scan 3D objects. The 3D depth-sensing…

Minecraft smartphone

Minecraft now has a working smartphone that can make video calls

Oh, I remember the halcyon days of 2010, don’t you? When we were all flabbergasted by some guy who had spent days and nights constructing a 1:1 scale model of Star Trek‘s Starship Enterprise. It was a one-man architectural feat and, actually, it’s as impressive today as it was five years ago. But we can now look back at this as Minecraft‘s primitive and ancient history, pretty much in the same way we do the pyramids in Giza. I don’t think that Enterprise could even take off, could it? These days we’re so used to seeing huge recreations in Minecraft…


Minecraft is now being used to recreate impressionist paintings

Because of its nature as a sandbox game closer to LEGO than anything else, Minecraft has been used to construct entire cities from famous works of fiction, blocky versions of real-world places, and even a bipedal war robot made of slime and TNT cannons, but it isn’t unheard of to see 2D art recreated with Minecraft’s palette of colorful cubes, too. a moody, abstract work rendered in the bulky cubes of Minecraft  With the freedom of Minecraft’s Creative mode, players have made 2D art ranging from retro-style pixel art sculptures to this intricate “painting” of Kerrigan from StarCraft, which took 23 weeks and…