We all know the feeling- you’ve been playing a great game, a game you love, and you finally made it to the end. You consider, for a while, going back and finishing all those little loose ends you left untied but instead your motivation to keep playing simply disappears, so you stop.
For linear games like Super Mario Bros. it’s never much of an issue, for open world games like Skyrim it can be a real annoyance, but for sandbox games like Minecraft, with no strict definition of beginning and end, the lack of motivation can be a huge hamper on your gaming experience. I’ve known people who started Minecraft full of enthusiasm only to stop playing mere hours into their first session once they realised there wasn’t anything driving them to continue. Knowing this, I’ve complied a list of things you can try to get yourself back into the swing of everyone’s favourite mining, crafting, zombie-killing survival game, even when that feeling of pointlessness begins to claw at your motivation.
1. Set yourself goals.
It may seem an obvious one to some of you, but self motivation isn’t actually something that most people expect when it comes to playing video games. For the most part games are very good at spoon-feeding us tasks to complete and challenges to overcome; their ability to provide us with a sense of achievement is a big part of what makes video games so fun. Minecraft is not one of those games. Instead of being given a character with a backstory or a narrative lore detailing some epic quest, you are simply given the world and told to go play. It’s part of what makes Minecraft so fun, but it can also sap your motivation to continue playing, sometimes even right from the outset. Setting yourself goals can be an easy way to combat this feeling.
A goal can be as simple as building a shelter, finding a village or crafting a diamond pickaxe; these kinds of small goals are important for driving yourself from one task to another, and are a necessary part of the game, but they tend to be pretty quick and easy to complete, and don’t often serve to maintain your interest in the game. In this case you should look, instead, for a different kind of goal: an end-goal, something that all those other little goals build up to and help you work towards. It’s best if these goals are flexible, that way if you finish them earlier than expected and want to keep going you can shift it a little bit. A great example would be the goal of building a grand castle, but maybe when you’re done you can add a little village for it to rule over. Setting yourself ultimate goals like these either is something that’s often overlooked, but it can often be of the utmost importance to feel like you’re working for something rather than just digging a hole for more digging.
2. Play with friends.
I’ve said it time and time again: games are always better with a friend. Make it two friends and that’s even better, make it three friends and you’re golden. Minecraft is no exception to this, and if you’ve only ever gone on solo missions to its blocky forests and fields then you are missing out on what I consider to be 90% of what makes Minecraft fun. Venturing into a cave can be less intimidating with a buddy to back you up, and the sense of companionship you get while working together to build something is often worth more than the finished product itself.
Who says playing Minecraft with friends forces you to do everything together, though? The world of Minecraft is nearly endless, so there’s nothing stopping you from exploring while your partner maintains the homestead, there’s something oddly comforting about heading off into the wilderness armed with the knowledge that someone is waiting for you at home. Even solo tasks are made better with friends: building a castle is so much more satisfying when there’s someone else for you to show around and give an impressed whistle when they see the fruits of your labour.
3. Play for friends…
…or have your friends play for you.
Playing with friends can be great, but it doesn’t always stop the issue of loss of motivation- when one of you stops playing, often the rest follow suit. If you’ve already Minecrafted yourself out but you know people who haven’t, instead of playing with your friends, try playing for them. Go where they want to go, do what they want to do, play the way they want to play and you can end up seeing an entirely new game from someone else’s point of view: to some people Minecraft is an exploration game, to others it’s all about survival and combat. You might even find that working towards their goals and dreams reignites your passion for completing your own.
Depending on your play-style, you can even play for your friend while they play for you, each doing the tasks in-game the other finds annoying or boring. Many people I know who play Minecraft love mining but they often don’t like worrying about food or building safe shelters for themselves at night, whereas other people I know live for the crafting side of Minecraft but hate the hassle of having to mine-up raw materials. In situations where these two gaming styles collide then Minecraft suddenly becomes only the best bits for each player. One player digs into the earth so another can build into the sky.
4. Play on a server.
Slightly akin to playing with friends, either locally or over the internet, is playing on a dedicated Minecraft server. There are literally hundreds of servers set-up exclusively for a multiplayer Minecraft experience and they can be a great way for people to enjoy playing Minecraft with others, even if they don’t know anyone interested in Minecraft in real life. Playing with people can be fun for all the reasons mentioned previously, but that’s not what this point is about, or else it would be just a paragraph under ‘Play with friends’. No, instead this is about the Minecraft servers dedicated to entirely different ways to play the game. There are servers that host Hunger-Games-like tournaments where the goal is to be the last one standing, and then there are servers lovingly crafted to imitate an RPG experience, with NPCs and quests and everything. There are Star Wars servers and Star Trek servers, Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. Have you ever wanted to walk around the world of Westeros from A Song of Ice and Fire? Well there’s a server for that, too; you can even apply to help build the landscapes and scenery for others to enjoy.
5. Get some mods.
Sometimes all you really need to get back into Minecraft is a little shot of something new, and while official update patches for Minecraft are few and far-between the modification community for Minecraft is one of the most impressive for any game out there. Mod bundles like Tekkit provide quick and easy access to a huge array of new horizons in Minecraft, ranging from small changes that enhance the flow and feel of the game to entirely new items, locations and game mechanics that open up new directions for crafting and exploration.
Minecraft mods don’t only have to enhance gameplay as you know it, however, and much like servers, there are a lot of mods out there that can provide entirely new ways of playing the game. From a mod that populates the world with Pokémon for you to train to a mod that allows you to interact with villagers on deeper levels and even marry and have children, Minecraft mods can be crazy and sometimes a little weird, but they’ll definitely serve to reinvigorate your passion for the game, adding a little chocolate or strawberry (or maybe even pistachio) to plain old vanilla Minecraft.
6. Play hardcore mode.
When things get boring, we humans tend to try to excite them again, often by foolishly making them more dangerous. In Minecraft there’s nothing more dangerous than hardcore mode. When you die, you die. Game over.
Playing as you normally would in hardcore mode is definitely not something I recommend- you’ll lose all of your progress when that creeper lurking outside inevitably finds its way inside and you end up in little bits on the floor. It can be very frustrating. Instead what I suggest is to play hardcore mode in the knowledge that you’re doing it just to see how long you can last- as a challenge. Combining this with the other points of this article can lead to some incredibly fun experiences. Play with friends online and set yourselves a common goal. The sense of urgency from death being permanent can really help to motivate people into working as a team towards your shared objective, and when one of your team-mates dies it can feel genuinely emotional.
7. Know when to quit.
This article is ultimately about avoiding boredom, and if you’re still finding yourself bored while playing Minecraft despite having tried everything you can to get back into it (including the points mentioned above) then taking a step back and examining your options is an important thing to bear in mind- it may be you find you just need to say goodbye. You and Minecraft have had some great times, and you’ll always treasure the memories of your adventures together, but sometimes it’s best to just let go. Video games aren’t meant to last forever, and they’re often better when they have a clear beginning and end. So go, be free, play other games, different games, maybe even better games; but know that you’ll always be able to come back sometime in the future. Minecraft will be there, patiently waiting for you to pick up the pickaxe once again, when the time is right.