You Aut to Try Minecraft
May 29, 2017 5:07 AM   Subscribe

It has been multiply reported that open world building and exploration game Minecraft (Product Page | Wikipedia) is disproportionately popular among autistics (CDC | Wikipedia). Said to be the best-selling game of all time behind only Tetris, Minecraft’s appeal is obviously broad, but is there something special about it that scratches a highly specific itch for people on the spectrum?

Autism support groups and parents (warning: comic sans) and server operators have drunk the pixelated Kool-Aid en masse (international classroom resources: American iBook | Canadian PDF), and there is academic support for the idea that working with virtual worlds can have social and communications benefits for both children and adults on the spectrum. The claim is that interaction and perception skills honed in-game are ported to the outside social world. Yale disabilities researchers explain that “typical individuals appear to anthropomorphize the inanimate world around them…children with ASD appear to do the reverse, namely to use the concepts and reasoning processes that they have for learning about a special interest…to try to make sense of social phenomena.”

Autistics are known for these “special interests” (also called circumscribed interests, or fascinations), distinguished from obsessive behaviours seen in, for example, OCD (DSM | IOCDF), because instead of being a focus of anxiety the behaviours “are beloved activities apparently associated with great positive valance.” Typical fascinations include ordering and categorizing within rule-bound systems, which is the essence of Minecraft play: resource blocks with certain properties are combined with other resource blocks to create product blocks with derivative or combined properties, which in turn may be assembled into architectural structures or hooked together into mechanical/signalling devices of aggregatable complexity. Also there are bunnies.

But autistic fascinations can be a double-edged sword, on the one hand “help[ing] shape their understanding of an otherwise confusing and perplexing social world” but also offering a depth of focus that may exacerbate isolation and social difficulties. Some even say Minecraft is non-figuratively addictive (Wired | some nut).

This submitter cannot pretend to be impartial. As an autist I can tell you the appeal for me lies in the game’s particular balance between simplicity and complexity. It is a rarified world, soothing in its abstraction, but sufficiently dynamic to be fertile for curiosity. It is a low-noise space, where “noise” is understood in terms of the Intense World Theory (original paper | dissenting opinion | story with pictures). From the Brain Mind Institute in Switzerland:

“The proposed neuropathology is hyper-functioning of local neural microcircuits, best characterized by hyper-reactivity and hyper-plasticity. Such hyper-functional microcircuits are speculated to be become autonomous and memory trapped leading to the core cognitive consequences of hyper-perception, hyper-attention, hyper-memory and hyper-emotionality…This may lead to obsessively detailed information processing of fragments of the world and an involuntarily and systematic decoupling of the autist from what becomes a painfully intense world. The autistic is proposed to become trapped in a limited, but highly secure internal world with minimal extremes and surprises.”

If you’re autistic yourself or you’re raising an autistic child, you know the danger of disappearing down the black hole of a purely internal world. The attraction of a micro-world that offers many features of an internal world without actual disengagement from reality should be obvious. As a parent, it can be the bridge you need to keep the lines of communication open.

For autists it can be hard to manage when to venture forth into the outside world and when to crawl back deep inside your own brain. Minecraft presents a reasonable compromise.
posted by Construction Concern (51 comments total) 71 users marked this as a favorite
 
Thank you for this incredibly detailed post. I appreciate the time you took to research it.
posted by Avarith at 5:25 AM on May 29, 2017 [14 favorites]


Minecraft is fun for a while on its own, but I find it's most fun as a collaborative, social game. Much like playing with Legos.
posted by rikschell at 5:39 AM on May 29, 2017 [3 favorites]


Hence nethack for the past quarter century. It somehow never gets old for me. I long fantasized about immersing myself in the game after retiring and now I'm living the dream. Every day...
posted by jim in austin at 6:15 AM on May 29, 2017 [11 favorites]


"Some even say Minecraft is non-figuratively addictive"

Minecraft literally helped me quit smoking, but in the long run I'm not sure it was a good trade.

(that is a joke, of course not smoking for the rest of your life is better than being sucked into a dumb video game nightly for what, two years straight?)
posted by komara at 7:06 AM on May 29, 2017 [4 favorites]


This is so interesting, because I have the worst impression of Minecraft; my only exposure to it was during a kid's birthday party where some of the kids were playing it on a Playstation, and with all the noise and chaos and social anxiety, I can't think of the game without associating it with all that. I was given a controller and had instructions eagerly shouted at me, which is not exactly my preferred way to learn things, and it all seemed impossibly complicated.

This post has me wanting to give it another try, except that I can't afford to sink into games and disappear from the world for any length of time these days. Time to concentrate on my favorite things is so limited and constrained!
posted by mittens at 7:27 AM on May 29, 2017 [1 favorite]


Minecraft seems like a game that I should love, but I found Dwarf Fortress first and I think it ruined me on the entire genre. The interface isn't for everyone but the level of complexity of the simulation and the emergent behavior that results from all the different little systems interacting is pure heroin for me. Whenever I try Minecraft or some other randomly-generated world-building sandbox game now, I end up bored and dissatisfied. The entire crafting system fits in my head at once and there's a handful of obvious optimal paths to optimize for and then I feel like, "and then what?" This is not to say I'm down on Minecraft; I really like it as a concept and I really like the things people are doing with it and the joy that they're taking from it. I'm just sad I can't join them because I've tasted the forbidden fruit and now I will never be innocent again.
posted by jordemort at 8:00 AM on May 29, 2017 [3 favorites]


jordemort: I get you. Try to think of Minecraft not as a problem to be solved, but as an infinite box of legos, where you can interact with the minifigs, and where you get the ability to make circuits for free. Don't be goal oriented, be 'wow, I wonder what it would look like if I made a floating castle that shoots fireballs'-oriented.
posted by signal at 8:04 AM on May 29, 2017 [10 favorites]


There's a lot here to get through but before I do I'll echo rikschell and relate my experience a bit. I was apprehensive about playing Minecraft at first when it was gifted to us by an uncle. It was just a gamefied Lego, I thought. But after a few rounds I could completely see how and why this game was so appealing. The absence of that "noise" mentioned above is definitely one thing. It is also so remarkably soothing to build and create in that quiet world. I often equate it with how some adults have rediscovered the joys of colouring books.

However, I completely get that it could easily become addictive. Some of the ways we mitigate the addictive nature of Minecraft - my son and I will usually play together, we play in creative mode, we plan out our builds on paper or Lego, we discuss the builds and their aesthetics, and we restrict ourselves to build in one or two medium sized worlds. Focus is something my son struggles with so getting him to discuss our Minecraft play, in abstract or concrete terms, or to concentrate on maintaining an aesthetic in a project centres his mind and gives him a greater satisfaction in his builds. For my son it has come to be an expression of his artistic imagination and as much a medium as real world art supplies. An acquaintance of ours with a neurodivergent child use it in a similar way, as an expression of artistic and social interaction, to good effect using it create fun videos of their exploits and low stress way to interact with others online. However, we do have another friend who lets their child use it but the parents do not take part in the activity with him which I don't think has been as helpful and veers into the obsessive / destructively addictive zone. I do think collaboration is a really important part of making the game a constructive and useful tool for the neurodivergent.
posted by Ashwagandha at 8:06 AM on May 29, 2017 [5 favorites]


The entire crafting system fits in my head at once and there's a handful of obvious optimal paths to optimize for and then I feel like, "and then what?"

You're the person modded minecraft is for. There's no end to the complexity there. It's literally impossible to play the more complicated versions without in (and out of) game help. Optimization, building pipelines to produce things, is a huge part of the modded game.

For the purest experience, I'd start with one of the "skyblock" series, Agrarian skies, or Sky Factory.
posted by bonehead at 8:06 AM on May 29, 2017 [5 favorites]


Minecraft pushes all of my geeky meta buttons in a way other games don't. I have lots of obscure Minecraft knowledge loaded in my brain pan because I'm one of those automated farm builder types. Building a guardian farm? The bounding box for guardian spawns in an ocean monument is 58×58×23. Want to tame a cat? Bring raw fish, some chicken eggs, and remember that ocelots share the hostile mob cap but spawn like passive mobs on solid grass blocks in the jungle. Want to break bedrock in vanilla without cheating? I can build you a redstone contraption that uses the dragon egg and lazy chunks to get me onto the roof of the nether. And until the latest pre-release, there was no recipe book, so it felt strangely pleasing to have all of those recipes stored in my head.

And on top of all that techy stuff, I can make stuff look pretty. Pop on a podcast playlist, find a slime chunk, dig a 22x22x65 hole, design and build a slime farm, then decorate the walls with pixel art murals and add an automated system to carry slime balls to the surface. Such a project will distract me from all of my physical and emotional troubles for six hours or more. I can't say the same for any other game but Terraria, which is another game that rewards people who enjoy amassing specialized knowledge of game mechanics so that they can be exploited.
posted by xyzzy at 8:24 AM on May 29, 2017 [16 favorites]


I love me some minecraft, and pretty much was going to say exactly what xyzzy said.

Except that you totally don't need to dig out as much as 22x65x22 for a slime farm - they only spawn from y level 40 down!
posted by Dysk at 8:40 AM on May 29, 2017 [1 favorite]


Terraria, which is another game that rewards people who enjoy amassing specialized knowledge of game mechanics so that they can be exploited.

You mispelled EVE.
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:40 AM on May 29, 2017 [2 favorites]


I have to say I find Minecraft a fascinating game; my wife and kids and I all have accounts and sometimes play together and sometimes apart. There is something soothing about it when playing in creative mode, and I also do weird things (in the view of my family) like play the game in hardcore mode. I have a real tendency to start worlds, build things to a certain point, and then get bored and start a different world to build up from scratch again.

But the longest I've ever stuck with something was when someone on MeFightClub opened up a Minecraft Realms server; everyone immediately started building bases and structures relatively near the spawn point, which I found got crowded pretty fast. So I packed up some stuff and wandered about 10-20,000 blocks away and started building there. I loved having the social component of chatting with others, but also enjoyed being off on my own, doing my own thing, and wondering when some other player might wander out that way and find my strange structures in the middle of the jungle. Anyways, I'm starting to look at setting up a small server just for my family, so that we can play in a shared world that isn't necessarily dependent on any particular individual having their computer up and running and in LAN mode.
posted by nubs at 8:42 AM on May 29, 2017 [2 favorites]


It's true that slimes only spawn from y level 40 down, but you can massively improve a single chunk's efficiency by using only the lowest Y levels for slime spawning and killing them quickly. Any solid blocks ABOVE the farm reduce efficiency because the game tries to calculate hostile mob spawn chances on blocks that won't spawn slimes. By removing all of the blocks and replacing with glass, the game doesn't even try to spawn anything on those blocks. The additional area (22x22 vs 16x16) allows the game to have a higher chance of spawning large slimes because it will use blocks outside the chunk to complete a slime spawn calculation.

So if you dig out the whole thing you get the most efficient slime farm possible.

That's what I mean by obscure knowledge. :)
posted by xyzzy at 8:45 AM on May 29, 2017 [11 favorites]


My children are both very serious about Minecraft. Neither is autistic (that we know of), but my son has dealt with a lot of sensory processing issues similar to those autistic folks can have. Minecraft as a game is clearly a very kind space for him, sensory-wise. In addition to the gameplay, I think the music plays a role.
posted by feckless at 9:29 AM on May 29, 2017 [3 favorites]


I'm of two minds about minecraft. The early pastoral experience is devine, as is the "torch or sword" tension as you wander underground. The thing that really creeps me out though is the economic efficiency of mass murder in the late game. Building titanic machines to automatically kill pigmen or iron gollums is as practical and profitable as making a giant automatic Mellon farm.

On a server I play on sometimes, there is a field of red poppies planted from those dropped by iron gollums that were incinerated by a magma trap. It's quite a large field. Below, there are thousands more poppies sitting in neat stacks where they've been seperated from iron by a precisely placed system of hoppers and chests. Many blocks above, the villagers that the gollums were meant to protect are wedged in cubby holes to ensure that new gollums will appear in optimal positions above the waterfalls that will carry them to their end.
posted by ethansr at 9:33 AM on May 29, 2017 [10 favorites]


mittens mentioned, "This post has me wanting to give it another try, except that I can't afford to sink into games and disappear from the world for any length of time these days. Time to concentrate on my favorite things is so limited and constrained!"

I feel the best time to surge ahead in a Minecraft project is during a nice, long, terrible trans-continental flight (which is composed of a few hours sitting in a plane, and a few hours sitting near a plane, and usually a couple of hours getting to and from the vicinity where planes congregate). I also favour making the most of train rides, which host environments more conducive to Minecraft (or reading) than making any professional headway during that time (for my kind of profession, at any rate).

nittens also noted, "...I have the worst impression of Minecraft; my only exposure to it was during a kid's birthday party where some of the kids were playing it on a Playstation, and with all the noise and chaos and social anxiety..."

I started Minecraft as a way to interact with my offspring. I would compose treasure hunts and puzzle maps for them, and we would all explore them together or with their friends online. Then the kids aged out of Minecraft, leaving me all alone in my worlds. I discovered a new kind of peace there, among the shrubberies and chickens and sunsets.
posted by Construction Concern at 9:43 AM on May 29, 2017 [12 favorites]


That's what I mean by obscure knowledge. :)

Fair enough. I've never found a need to pursue that kind of efficiency, so I haven't looked into it, but wouldn't you need to remove all the solid blocks in all the chunks around it (within 128 blocks of your afk spot) to really see the benefit?
posted by Dysk at 9:48 AM on May 29, 2017


ethansr explained, "The early pastoral experience is devine...The thing that really creeps me out though is the economic efficiency of mass murder in the late game."

The primary reason I started building puzzles for my son was to give him something better to do than blow up cows. Outside of Minecraft I'm not a game player at all -- I mean, at all* -- and a big part of that is the killing. Many games are predicated on killing, which I find emotionally exhausting. If I'm going to get all verklempt over killing somebody there's got to be something better in it for me than XP or a key-card for a door I can't find -- maybe a wealthy dowager's jewels?

_____
* Exception: Years ago a friend of mine brought over his Toyota Game Sphere or something like that, and it had this one game on it where Super Mario could run around and chase butterflies and do cartwheels. I played that non-stop for, like, days. Then my friend came back to pick up his thingy and I asked why I'd never gone past the "introduction" level. I shrugged. "Every other level was all about killing turtles or something. I hate killing turtles."
posted by Construction Concern at 9:54 AM on May 29, 2017 [5 favorites]


The early pastoral experience is devine, as is the "torch or sword" tension as you wander underground

You need to check out the latest patches, as they allow you to hold an off-hand item - so you can now wander with "torch and sword"
posted by nubs at 9:56 AM on May 29, 2017


Outside of Minecraft I'm not a game player at all -- I mean, at all* -- and a big part of that is the killing. Many games are predicated on killing, which I find emotionally exhausting.

Same here. And I just find it boring and unimaginative too. This is absolutely my number one complaint about popular games and the gaming scene in general. How do people not get bored and depressed about the limits of human imagination playing a hundred slightly different variations on the same premises and gameplay? It gets tedious and depressing to me.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:52 AM on May 29, 2017 [2 favorites]


I tend to prefer games where crafting is a part of the game or even optional. I had fun collecting stuff in City of Heroes and World of Warcraft, and Mass Effect: Andromeda has added that as well.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:06 AM on May 29, 2017


Minecraft is my go-to when I am too down for anything else. Sometimes I just start up a new game on Peaceful (I always play on Peaceful) and go for a walk. Sometimes I just do the usual-- build a little house, grow some plants, tame a horse. I have my little fantasy farm-- a house with a view of a volcano and river, a stable full of horses, more dogs than I can count, flowers, and a fishing dock.

One time, in the dark depths of my depression, I was playing Minecraft and somehow ended up waaay underground, very lost, with a couple of diamonds.... and no wood for a new pickaxe. I considered suicide, but dammit.. I had diamonds in my inventory. And so I set to literally 'digging up'... carefully, by hand, hacking stairs up out of the black rock. Listening for lava and water, and backing off and trying again when they came close. Climbing through the occasional empty cavern, then back to the regular three pock-pock-pock-pock series. And finally, finally... I heard the soft lowing of cows, hammered through a square edged in grass, and I broke through into sunlight. Never has a square sun looked so beautiful.

No matter how deep or dark you get... you have diamonds in your inventory. Just keep digging.
posted by The otter lady at 11:19 AM on May 29, 2017 [45 favorites]


I was early to Minecraft back in the alpha days. I knew how to cheat but it felt more honest to do it by hand. One project was to make a 27^3 glass cube with lava cantor dust in it. I had to strip-mine a desert to make the glass, so much deforesting for tools and firewood. and many trips to THE HELL DIMENSION to get lava. And silly me, I never knew that if you crouch, you won't fall off the edge and die. It took so much time, but I had it and it was soothing and meditative. I found myself in an almost zen state. Chop chop chop chop next, chop chop chop chop next...

My friends were making big projects much faster by cheating, but I felt they weren't even cheating very well. I wanted to show them better ways to cheat, by writing mods and scripts. Here's some of the stuff I made. Oh wow that's a copy of the glass cantor dust lava cube I made in the first image. Hard to believe that was almost six years ago.

Anyhow, after cheating, I stopped playing. There was no reason to zone out and just dig dig dig for the resources for your thing, when you can get them in an instant. I suppose what I really enjoyed was the pursuit of resources, not the goal at the end.

I can't really talk about autism, but maybe there's something to infer from the way I played by someone that knows more about it.

By the way, I was 32yo and minecraft was an obscure indie game when I started playing. I was so 'before it was cool' when it blew up the way it has. I'm glad it did! it's a great game, I recommend it to parents all the time.
posted by adept256 at 11:42 AM on May 29, 2017 [1 favorite]


Minecraft gives me the heebie-jeebies, I can't even look at screenshots because how can the sun be square???
posted by Mogur at 11:46 AM on May 29, 2017 [1 favorite]


Really good post, but I'm also equally uncomfortable (I have ASD) with the phrasing of "Autistics" and "Autists." I might have missed something these days online, but that's pretty offensive in the personal and professional (I also work with individuals on the spectrum) circles I travel in.
posted by Drumhellz at 11:47 AM on May 29, 2017 [1 favorite]


Minecraft gives me the heebie-jeebies, I can't even look at screenshots because how can the sun be square???

Everything in Minecraft is moddable. There are plenty of texture packs that will give you a round sun (or a round-but-terrifying Majora's Mask moon).
posted by straight at 11:56 AM on May 29, 2017


I never liked Minecraft because my first building game was Landmark. The things you could make were game ready minus the squareness. None of the block games are satisfying to me now. Sadly Landmark was shut down this year so I have nothing to fill my need.
posted by JakeEXTREME at 11:58 AM on May 29, 2017


Really good post, but I'm also equally uncomfortable (I have ASD) with the phrasing of "Autistics" and "Autists." I might have missed something these days online, but that's pretty offensive in the personal and professional (I also work with individuals on the spectrum) circles I travel in.

Bit of a side point, but there's an increasingly common thing in parts of the a/Autistic community that's similar in some ways to the split between identification as deaf/HoH vs culturally Deaf (caveat: I am not d/Deaf and do not have all the nuance here). That is, many Autistics (self included) feel a common culture and sense of intrinsic identity with other a/Autistic people, and are not fans of and/or reject person-first descriptors. Obviously it's all contextual -- in your circles, "Autistics/Autists" is offensive, but in the a/Autistic communities I hang out in, "person with autism" or "person with ASD" is the insulting phrasing. Autism is a land of contrasts, if you know one autistic person you know one autistic person, etc.
posted by dorque at 12:02 PM on May 29, 2017 [5 favorites]


Every once in a while someone tries to convince me that I'd love Minecraft, but... I think it's important for me to build things that are real and physically useful. I couldn't convince myself that I wasn't wasting time.

(This is a thing with me, though. I had trouble convincing myself I wasn't wasting time when I was performing musical theater, also.)
posted by amtho at 12:44 PM on May 29, 2017


Drumhellz decanted, "...I'm also equally uncomfortable (I have ASD) with the phrasing of "Autistics" and "Autists." I might have missed something these days online, but that's pretty offensive in the personal and professional (I also work with individuals on the spectrum) circles I travel in."

A point worthy of discussion, Drumhellz!

Both terms are directly from the research literature quoted in the post. Alternatively the ASD forums are replete with threads mulling how best to describe (academically) or identify (socially) the autnaut, with a variety of suggestions available.

I have no doubt professional societies find the need to converge to common terms from time to time, which seems like a reasonable way to clean house, and I'm for it. How to respectfully talk about being blind versus being visually impaired, or deaf or Deaf, is a good sensitivity for a professional to have. It could save them embarrassment.

But the culture of autism is not unidimensionally defined by its professional handlers, or by its scientific investigators. The people who live that culture have a say, too. So if you're an autistic individual -- and you are! -- I'm happy to call you whatever you'd best prefer.

Same goes for me, I should hope.
posted by Construction Concern at 12:52 PM on May 29, 2017 [3 favorites]


Farming Simulator 2017. Semi realistic, no killing, very moddable (in fact to really make the game sing you need mods). Lots of grinding, lots of ways to make money (if you care to), pretty cheap price and it doesn't require a huge honking PC to run. I play it daily. In fact it's very calming to me to play.
posted by disclaimer at 1:33 PM on May 29, 2017 [1 favorite]


I like to play for the pathfinding, as in human pathfinding not AI. I'm bad at directions in real life and minecraft is a decent enough simulation of the world for this purpose. The sun rises and sets in the same place each day and the world is flat, so cardinal directions are meaningful and you can get around by paying attention to where the sun is and memorizing the terrain. Also everything is square so it's hard not to realize when you start facing a different direction. You can craft a compass that points to your original spawn point and make maps of small areas. I get bored with crafting and mining very quickly, but getting lost in that game is pretty fun.
posted by mammal at 2:39 PM on May 29, 2017


Over at MeFightClub we used to have, courtesy of the esteemed toomuchpete, the great Aporkalypse server, which was one of the oldest servers with one of the largest maps. (If memory serves, the MC update which converted the format maps are stored in from the original to the current format was actually tested by Mojang using the Aporkalypse's map files, on the grounds that if the converter could handle that, it could handle anything.) Recently I've been playing on ZureaL's server for Feed The Beast, a humongous package of mods that extends Minecraft in a lot of neat ways, and it's been really nice running into people from the Apork there.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:46 PM on May 29, 2017


re: "autists" in particular, I think the offensive associations are with "alt right"/4chan/internet Nazi types co-opting the term (as well as "autistic") to use as an insult. "Autistic people" is probably the ideal phrasing; there are problems with both "people with autism" and "autists."

re: Minecraft, I enjoy seeing what people build in it, but it looks fairly unappealing to me. On the other hand, I hang out in Second Life, can't wait to try Stardew Valley and love the color and sound explosion sensory overload of Sonic Team games, so hey.
posted by byanyothername at 4:47 PM on May 29, 2017 [1 favorite]


Is there a Minecraft-like game where the focus is on building beautiful structures that look more realistic than Minecraft creations? It doesn't even have to be a game, really, just a building block program that's 100x times more accessible than AutoCAD, and requiring no innate talent.

I feel like I could really get into a Minecraft-like construction kit, but only if the end product looked like a Victorian manor or a medieval cathedral or a Mid-Century modern ranch house. (I'm aware of the Minecraft mods that make the game look quite unMinecrafty, but I'm looking for something beyond those.)
posted by Ian A.T. at 4:55 PM on May 29, 2017 [4 favorites]


Ian AT, I would play that game!
posted by wenestvedt at 5:14 PM on May 29, 2017


Based on xyzzy's explanation, I've gone and found some information on how the game actually does mob-spawning, and wow the level of attention to detail is incredible. There are a few things I'm going to start doing differently.
posted by Dysk at 5:22 PM on May 29, 2017 [1 favorite]


Ian A.T. My son and I have daydreamed about the game you're describing for as long as Minecraft's been in our lives.
posted by saulgoodman at 5:27 PM on May 29, 2017


I also would love that game, said as I plan out my latest Peterhof-inspired build.
posted by wintermind at 5:38 PM on May 29, 2017


Ian A.T. and saulgoodman, I'm right there with you-- Blockscape is what I would have recommended, but the creator changed it to a Minecraft-like graphic system. So far, Sims 4 is the closest thing I've found.
posted by The otter lady at 5:45 PM on May 29, 2017 [1 favorite]


That is, many Autistics (self included) feel a common culture and sense of intrinsic identity with other a/Autistic people, and are not fans of and/or reject person-first descriptors.

This rapidly becomes another conversation, but many of us on the spectrum disagree strongly with that idea, both for intersectional reasons and also just out of personal preferences.

I'm not sure it's possible to reconcile these two beliefs. What's doubly problematic is that, in a discussion about terminology, a group of individuals who feel like they share a common identity are going to be louder than individuals who don't, even if most people disagree with them. Those of us who put energy into things outside of the autistic community (such as it is) don't have an easy way of having a voice in these discussions. And the irony of saying that I ought to be active and vocal to have my voice heard is that my decision to not associate with collective groups of individuals on the spectrum for the sake of associating with individuals on the spectrum is itself a deliberately political act.

I can easily refer to you as Autistic, but unless there's a neutral term which involves neither person-first nor identity-first language (and unless that neutral term doesn't itself carry ideological bias), one of the two of us is going to be mischaracterized in aggregate. To the extent that language carries with it ideological assumptions, this means that one of the two of us is going to be marginalized. And I will be damned if I will be marginalized yet again.

"Nothing about us without us" indeed.
posted by steady-state strawberry at 5:55 PM on May 29, 2017 [5 favorites]


byanyothername: re: "autists" in particular, I think the offensive associations are with "alt right"/4chan/internet Nazi types co-opting the term (as well as "autistic") to use as an insult. "Autistic people" is probably the ideal phrasing; there are problems with both "people with autism" and "autists."

Out of all the folks who might influence what to call myself, the alt-right factors low. I'm pretty sure my default attitude would be to wear with pride whatever they would insinuate to be an insult. So, upon reflection, my first sentence is a liar: if the alt-right has decided "autist" is insulting I've been influenced to crystallize my unabashed usage.

re: Minecraft, I enjoy seeing what people build in it, but it looks fairly unappealing to me. On the other hand, I hang out in Second Life, can't wait to try Stardew Valley and love the color and sound explosion sensory overload of Sonic Team games, so hey."

It's actually the lack of realistic detail that pleases me about Minecraft, though I'm definitely hearing that for a lot of people the abstraction level is too high.
posted by Construction Concern at 6:18 PM on May 29, 2017 [1 favorite]


(The last time I looked for the game I described upthread, I googled "Minecraft for grownups." One of the first hits was a forum thread with that title; the OP clarified that by "grownups" they meant players aged "16-30." Ha!)
posted by Ian A.T. at 7:57 PM on May 29, 2017


Voxel art seems like it's on the rise. There are several reasonably approachable Voxel editors: MagicaVoxel, Goxel, Qubicle etc.
posted by ethansr at 2:41 AM on May 30, 2017 [1 favorite]


I can only speak for myself, but I don't want (or expect) Minecraft to be photorealistic or anything more I just would like to see a little more variety in blocks. I know, texture packs, but.
posted by wintermind at 3:37 AM on May 30, 2017


1.12 should be out in the next few weeks, (The World of Color update) and it adds two new blocks in every colour, as well as 16 different colourful patterned blocks.
posted by Dysk at 3:41 AM on May 30, 2017 [1 favorite]


Is there a Minecraft-like game where the focus is on building beautiful structures that look more realistic than Minecraft creations?

There was Landmark.

The game uses the Voxel Farm game engine which you can get a dev license for pretty cheap but the Landmark interface was pretty simple.
posted by JakeEXTREME at 8:16 AM on May 30, 2017 [1 favorite]


As a note to my above post, almost everything in that video (95%) is player made content. It does include things I built but the video is not mine.
posted by JakeEXTREME at 8:19 AM on May 30, 2017


Telling Minecraft stories, are we?

I started playing with the son of a person I dated for a while, looking for a cruel Ayn Randian Minecraft server where he would suffer as much cruelty as he was itching to give, hoping it would give him some perspective. He was humbled, and gave up on servers.

And, I started struggling to survive there myself. The challenge was infuriating but irresistible. Using a player-locator cheat to avoid being seen because literally everyone would kill you on sight. Building successively more secretive bases, every one looted when I returned, until I learned to swim to the deepest depths of the ocean, dig straight down to a large lava pool using an x-ray vision cheat, and build a base right under it with hollow double walls so the lava could flow down all four sides like a force field. The only way in was to teleport. That base survived until the server reset.

After that, protected land ownership was introduced and the demeanor of the players changed dramatically. I built a tall thin castle with on a mountain archipelago separating two vast oceans, with a basement going all the way down to bedrock filled with dozens of floors of every tree, every crop and every farm animal. I ran a two line railway loop through it that eventually spanned six continents, passed dozens of much larger bases with rail stations and cart rental chests at every one. I entertained many friendly visitors, looted abandoned bases and lined the walls with rows of diamond armor. When I was eventually granted admin powers I flew for hours making a giant map of the known world and put it up at spawn.

Then one day I logged in and it was all gone - another server reset. No warning. I was sad for half an hour, then logged off and have never been back.
posted by CynicalKnight at 5:28 PM on May 30, 2017 [1 favorite]


My autistic 7 year old has been playing Minecraft for about 2 years now, it's pretty crazy the things he can do. For Christmas this year we bought him the Little Bits kit that connects to Minecraft via bluetooth, so he can build contraptions with legos and stuff in real life and interact with them in Minecraft, I highly recommend it. Also we connect it via a Makey-makey and playdough or pencil drawings or anything else that will conduct electricity.
posted by Hazelsmrf at 5:13 AM on May 31, 2017 [1 favorite]


« Older Gone with Noakes   |   100 Movies 100 Numbers 100 Seconds. Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments