Russian Dolls – Explaining games to girls

Wow Tom… That’s a provocative title – I’d almost call it click bait. It was unintentional though I promise!

Let’s just make this clear. Said ‘girls’ are very old friends, I’m just a sucker for a bit of alliteration in my titles! Sorry to disappoint.

…and that’s how SHE felt when I enthusiastically exclaimed I’d be writing a blog about MINECRAFT this evening – disappointed. Because my blogging name thehydeaway gaming doesn’t suggest anything about the prospective content…

But worry not my repulsed readership, for I’ll be explaining things to you like I did to dear Ann (when she foolishly asked). Before I do though…

Minecraft Xbox One Edition (2)
My humble project fast devolved into a morally questionable battery farm – I’ve been extremely insensitive today.

A bit of context if you please.

I’ll save you the history lesson. Everyone knows about Minecraft. It’s a game, and it revolves around blocks. It’s a survival, exploration game where you can build whatever your imagination is capable of thinking up.

…and I’m gunna have to stop you there.

So when you’re young, and I mean like just learnt to walk young, you’ll have been exposed to some kind of building blocks. Duplo, Lego or something more retro maybe, it doesn’t matter. The thing is, it separates kids into two different parties: the creative kids who play with things properly, and the kids who take immense pleasure in destroying things.


I was a proud member of the latter group. It got better though. I’m reliably informed that I used to let my parents make towers for me JUST so I could demolish them. As I grew older, I looked up to my Dad who was clearly one of the quiet creative types, and we started making our OWN Duplo robots – which we’d subsequently smash into each other in a ferocious battle to the death.

Minecraft Xbox One Edition (3)
My lava trap for unsuspecting visitors. Don’t annoy me.

Where do Russian Dolls come in to this? 

The point I’m trying to make is that Minecraft doesn’t really cater for MY kind. I’ve actually started playing it about 3 times now through the years, and each time I seem to run out of creative juice.

A system quickly develops whereby I get the hang of the crafting, fell some trees, kill some cows, cook some meat – all good environmental stuff – then I’ll acquire a pickaxe, mine my way directly down to the bedrock, then get lost, get bored and find a more violent game to take my frustration out on.

I get the feeling I’m leaving a damaging impression…

Russian Dolls! OK so although I was beginning to see a pattern, I didn’t yet understand how people could sink so many valuable hours into it. You might still be clueless, I wouldn’t blame you for thinking it. Let’s be honest – the graphics are shitty, there’s no story, and the world seems overwhelmingly underpopulated and empty!

Minecraft Xbox One Edition (8)

Well my Dad – bless him – is not good at video games. Not the ones you have to navigate two joysticks for anyway (whispers: “all of them”), but he’s creative, he always has been, so I thought I’d buy Minecraft for him. Turns out I unleashed something upon the world, because this was a birthday present last July, and he’s built a freaking empire out of blocks.

Now I confess, I myself haven’t put much passion into a single video game for a while. You can argue a case for Battlefield 1, but I could tell from early on she wasn’t the one. (Lord… am I personifying my games?) I thought to myself there must be something to this. So I began to watch him play. I’m not saying he was particularly good at Minecraft – to this day he’s continually falling from high places – although he does that in real life. However he was doing things, building and creating things I’d never even imagined.

On the edge of a vast chasm he’d built a gigantic white tower, like a beacon. He mined walkways into the chasm and made a home for himself, then he ventured into the unknown, making white watch towers along the distant mountains. It was like something out of Lord of the Rings.

Minecraft Xbox One Edition (6)
A collaborative effort. It’s just a shame you can’t see my input!

This weekend I thought I’d give Minecraft another go myself. I tasked myself with building a mountain fort. Nothing difficult, just make it vaguely symmetrical if possible. I enlisted Tom and my Dad to help, and together we built a medieval village! Whilst Dad and Tom tended to the construction side of things, I did a bit of research online and found out how to coax animals into a pen, and grow wheat.

And just like that, we were back to Duplo. Back to individually making our own things, but this time they were projects in relative harmony. That’s until I decide to blow up Dad’s tower, hahah!

Minecraft Xbox One Edition (4)
I only needed the wheat to lure the cows in… Turns out it also makes them breed. Time to build a cow empire.

Oh right, they come in here!

Russian Dolls! OK so I explained it to Ann like this. Minecraft is simple. It does what it says on the tin. However look deeper, do some research, get another person’s perspective, and you can find a way of cracking open the doll (your first impressions) to find something completely new inside. People find ways of spending hundreds of hours playing Minecraft all over the world because there doesn’t seem to be a finite amount of dolls. There is an almost infinite scope for what you can create. Take a look at some of the things the world has come up with!


In reality I never got that far in my explanation to Ann. We started talking about other less interesting stuff like relationships…


So what I TRIED to do here was to build my own little Russian doll. Put my gaming blog inside another, more accessible blog which the general populous can enjoy reading. Bit of childhood here, bit of Dad bullying there. How did I do anyway? Are you still reading? Are you as revolted as you were after reading the intro?

Write me back, I am interested what you think.

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