Minecraft Made Me Cry
by Lane LaBelle
I can remember the first time I cried in front of my therapist. But it wasn’t from talking about familial trauma or gender identity or sexual assault or the crushing isolation of living hundreds of miles from your closest friends. No, I’m embarrassed to say that the first time I cried in front of my therapist, I was talking about Minecraft. (I was embarrassed then, too.)
Minecraft is probably in my top-five most-played games, even though I’ve been working on varied iterations of the same project over all these years. I want to recreate the world of The Legend of Zelda in shitty little blocks. I’ve got a story and adventure planned out, with quests and dungeons and puzzles that combine all the elements of my favorite Zelda games.
I’ve never gotten anywhere with this project, despite the hundreds of hours I’ve worked on it. I stop and start every few months, and can usually distract myself with mods or other minutiae to avoid the pressure of doing any real building. Most recently, I spent a week finding a way to make Minecraft run off a USB, so I could play it on the work computer at my 9-5, only to abandon the game when I actually accomplished this goal.
The dozens of grid paper blueprints and crude copy-and-pasted MS Paint maps I’ve made haven’t helped me get past the overwhelming fear that the final product will not satisfy me. Even in a world as boundless and patient as single-player virtual Lego, I can’t shake the self-doubt that my Minecraft Hyrule won’t match my vision.
I will never make a world that lives up to my standards, so it’s better to avoid making it at all.
Intellectually, I know that this is defeatism. When I brought it up in therapy, I thought I was making small talk about a fun hobby I was starting to get back into. Instead, I cried ugly tears of frustration at being unable to enjoy the game. It illuminated all the confidence issues I’ve had since I dropped out of college. If I couldn’t even keep myself in academia—the one area I would have considered myself skilled in before I went to university—how could I expect to ever succeed at building something I’ve been failing at for over half a decade? My therapist countered that I didn’t drop out because I was bad at school, but because I had other factors working against me, like having no financial or mental safety net. To me, that just makes my inability to place some fucking blocks even more bewildering, but I appreciated her sentiment.
I’ve only played Minecraft a little bit since then, mostly trying to work out the compatibility kinks preventing it from running smoothly. Soon, I’ll run out of details to fuss about, and I’ll be left with the horrifying blank canvas of a superflat world, at which point I will probably close the game and play solitaire on my phone. ◒
Lane LaBelle is a freelance writer, allegedly. They love daydreaming, cooking, and laughing at every available opportunity. They tweet abrasively at @_lanelabelle.