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  • Writer's pictureTam Chronin

So... Minecraft?

Yep. I've been letting my brain wander in Minecraft paths to give my mind a break. Been playing nearly every Sunday, but sometimes I skip and sometimes I take an extra weekday for fun. I've been watching a lot of videos on YouTube too, particularly Hermitcraft, when I'm not playing around in my own world.


Oh man, why not?

Everyone needs a place to retreat to. Something to relax with. I've been a gamer for over 20 years, and it gives me a feeling of accomplishment.

It's this little pocket of creativity that isn't work for me. I can mindlessly zone out while I mine resources with a podcast or audio book in the background. I can fight off zombies or other things if I need to vent some frustrations. I can take the images of buildings in my head that I describe in my books and try to put them into a 3D blocky world. I can go into an ancient city and live my own fake horror story while I get jumpscared by shriekers and dodge wardens.

Minecraft bends my mind in new directions. Creativity relies on brain elasticity, so it's necessary to shake things up.

It's one of the wells I draw from when ideas run dry.

It wasn't always Minecraft, of course. I remember when I played World of Warcraft I was leveling up the first character that actually meant something to me, a Draenei shaman. Back then, they hadn't programmed in the footprints yet. So, I was out in the sandy desert of Tanaris and all my friends had a trail of fading footprints behind them, but I didn't. That day, I had this idea about a story of the impermanence it implied. I set that idea aside to be used in a story later, and it's still sitting there in my contemplation box.

I'd been zoning out when I had that thought. Mindlessly, tediously running my character from one place to another.

That right there is my point. Inspiration can hit hard in those moments. Your brain is semi-disengaged from what you're doing, and a detail catches your eye. The next thing you know, you're contemplating the nature of existence and how you can share that in a relatable abstract version that others might enjoy.

Get out there and just enjoy something. This is permission to engage in play. Your brain needs it from time to time.

More recently I've been chasing the end of my Godslayers Series and how to get there while I'm down in the mines, or tearing down a mountain of terracotta. I contemplate what kind of zombies Grace is going to face in Zombies Half Price when I dig into a cave and can't quite place down torches fast enough to keep me safe in game.

Sometimes you have to force creativity when you're up against a deadline, but sometimes you have to coax your brain with fun to trick it into new ideas. If you're stuck, try taking a break and approaching creativity from a new angle. It might be just what you need.

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