Cleaning up in the Apocalypse

I love mining in Minecraft. As soon as I start a new world my first priority is getting the tools to mine and then disappearing underground. So I quickly punch down some trees (Minecraft has rightly been applauded for its realism), make a crafting table, make a few sticks, then a wooden pickaxe and then dig down to get cobblestone to make myself a cobblestone pickaxe. And then I go hunting for some coal. If this looks to be a struggle I change tack and get more cobblestone, build a furnace and burn wood to get charcoal. Then I make some torches and I’m away to go.

Then the mining starts. I dig three blocks down and two across and I dig until I reach either:-

-level 11-14 on the Y axis (press F3);

-an interesting lava pool (I love digging around the outside of a lava pool to see how wide it goes – I am less fond of discovering how deep it goes mibd you, but that does happen occasionally;

-a mineshaft (jackpot – I love exploring mineshafts – the dark tunnels, the chests, the sparkly spawners (RUN!!), the chance to get very very lost and the chance to get very very dead.

I think what attracts me to mining is that it’s like a massive clean up exercise. I spot coal and iron and I dig them out. Lovely. I then fill up the holes with cobblestone to create a lovely smooth surface. If I’m in a mineshaft I chop down all the wood and dig up all the railway tracks so it’s left clean and tidy. I can then look back with pleasure at the long corridors behind me, all even and smooth, and I feel like I’ve achieved something. Even better I know all the treasures I’ve discovered are tucked up warm and safe in my inventory. But then of course I turn around and find myself nose to nose with a creeper – hello my little friend.

Now I think some of this says something about my personality. Consider the fact my second favourite thing to do in Minecraft is to tidy chests. If husband and daughter are playing together their chests fast become a nightmare – everything goes everywhere. But once I join up I will spend hours tidying up after them, moving things from chest to chest so it all nice and ordered, so it all makes sense. When I’ve finished I will knock up a few signs so everyone knows what goes where. Then they both get a lecture about keeping things tidy.

And the third thing I enjoy … a vegetable garden arranged in neat little rows.

Yes I think you get the point. I use Minecraft to indulge my love of tidiness, orderliness and control. Now the interesting thing is I have a house in which I could try to do all those things but I’d rather do them in Minecraft. I think it’s because you can actually reach an end point in Minecraft when everything is neat and tidy – your smooth tunnel remains smooth (unless you let a creeper in); you can protect your vegetable garden with fences and mob traps and ensure everyone replants what they take; you can reinforce your chest rules with strongly worded signs. Then it’s done. Yes occasionally there’ll be a slip up (“Why is this sapling in the pickaxe chest?”) but generally a nice ordered Minecraft world makes life easier for everyone so everyone sort of falls in line. But in real life – hmm – the advantages of being tidy and organised seem not so easily understood. Personally I think it’s the lack of zombies – I think I need a horde of zombies to help reinforce my point about putting your shoes away and emptying the dishwasher. Knowing this makes me feel slightly better when I think about the chance that our world one day becomes the world of Walking Dead – maybe then I’ll get the ordered household I want. And I’m sure this will be a huge comfort to me as someone gnaws away at my arm.

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