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Marcunio avatar 5:26 PM on 12.15.2012  (server time)
The Twelve Games of Christmas: Day Two

It's that time of year again, folks. The days are short and cold, the nights are long and even colder, and one of the best places to be is in your nice warm house. Since you're there, you may as well break out the good ol' videogames and make those chilly winter evenings go by a little faster.

In honour of this, I'm going to be posting about one game each day in the run-up to Christmas, finishing on the magical day itself. Keep in mind that these aren't necessarily going to be games that feature Christmas (although some do). Rather, they're going to be a mix of winter warmers, personal nostalgic favourites, and games that echo some traditional Christmas pastimes. I'm sure other people will have their own winter favourites, but this is my unique list and I'm going to do my best to give a little history on each game and explain why they're featured here.

So, without further ado, onwards with day two!


History: If you don't know what Minecraft is, you probably make your home under a large piece of granite somewhere in the Outer Hebrides. First released in May 2009 for PC, it was in public alpha and then beta stages until November 2011. During this time news of the game started to spread through word of mouth, online forums, and gaming websites. By the time it was officially released there were millions of players, and creator, Markus "Notch" Persson, had been able to start his own company (Mojang). An Xbox 360 port was released in May 2012 and became profitable within 24 hours, going on to surpass 1 million sales in it's first week of availability.

There is no one definable goal in Minecraft, rather, the player is left to their own devices in a completely customisable world. The map is randomly generated and composed entirely of cubes. These cubes represent different materials, such as stone, sand, dirt, water, and even diamond. Wood acquired from chopping down trees can be used to create basic tools, allowing the player to mine for stone and minerals. From there you can build pretty much anything your imagination could conjure, from the obvious castles and giant genitalia, to life size replicas of the USS Enterprise.

When playing in survival mode the map is populated by monsters, ranging from spiders to the mysterious Endermen. These creatures will do their utmost to destroy you and your creations, so it's best to carry a sword. As a wise man once said, "it's dangerous to go alone". Speaking of which, Minecraft features a fantastic multiplayer mode. Players have collaborated to build entire cities, created unique games within games, and attempted to blow up the whole world. It's this freedom and the opportunities for emergent gameplay that have made Minecraft so popular.

Why It's Here: Had a family argument? Sick of the crazy Christmas rush? Just need to escape? Then Minecraft's your game. Carving out miles of underground tunnels while you plan your next big build can be supremely relaxing. Combined with the gorgeous ambient music, you can effectively transport yourself to a completely different world. And since it's the season, why not build some Christmas themed creations, and/or install a festive themed mod. Forget about the stresses of the outside world and build your perfect Christmas in Minecraft.

If you really want to relax, it's probably best to play on either peaceful difficulty or in creative mode. Otherwise you might have some unwelcome green coloured visitors. No, not the Grinch, Creepers of course. A large explosion is the last thing anyone wants underneath the Christmas tree.

Will you be playing Minecraft this Christmas? Or maybe you have some Minecraft based Christmas stories from years gone by? Let me know in the comments below.

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