The recent explosion of Minecraft has, in many ways, been no less than an artistic revolution in gaming. The basic, unmodified, version of Minecraft creates a world generated out of cubical blocks that can be broken down and rearranged in almost any way the player so desires. It has preprogrammed monsters and NPC’s, but these can easily be turned on and off and placed in specific locations, making them a tool that Minecraft provides for artistic expression. Minecraft also features an open source code, allowing anyone with the proper programming skills to make new versions and modifications of the program. I would argue that Minecraft is less a video game, but rather a tool for artistic expression that can be used as a game.
The vanilla Minecraft is, at its core, a tool for three dimensional modeling on a computer. However, if you add monsters to these model, it becomes a tool to create your own adventures. If you add signs, you can begin to provide textual context to your adventure. You can begin to create a story. However, the array of tools the player is provided are limited. However, this is where the open source of a program like Minecraft really shines.
The open source gives players the means to create their own tools for artistic expression with in Minecraft and allows for works of art unique to Minecraft as a medium. Once a player starts taking advantage of the open source of Minecraft, the bar of what can be done in Minecraft is not just raised, but almost completely removed. Now players can download, or if the mod does not yet exist, create a mod to allow them to create audio recordings that can be triggered and played while interacting with in the program. Beyond that, if a player wants to do something like create their own levels for Valve’s Portal, Minecraft modifications can provide them with the tools to do that. A modification can be downloaded which creates a fully functional portal gun and simulates the physics used in Portal with in Minecraft. Suddenly, with this simple modification, Minecraft has become both an adaptation of Portal and a tool that most anyone can use to modify Portal as a literary source.
Minecraft gives players almost limitless power to create original works of art, whether it be creating a model with in the game world, or adapting and modifying a previous work. I can not predict what the Minecraft community will produce with the tools it has been provided, it has great potential to create unique and interesting works of art.