I think I know this block!

Inference and Art Style in Minecraft

Let me start of by saying that while I was aware of Minecraft I did not begin to play it until I began research for my Masters dissertation. It was an interesting a creatively enlightening experience which I have thoroughly enjoyed. I hope in the future to do more research involving Minecraft but that's another story.

Minecraft, due to its cube artistic style, relies partially on player inference, but does combines detailed textures with descriptive titles to inform players of materials. The player must infer from this he material behaviour and tools required through previous knowledge and a little trial and error.

Playing it for the first time as an adult design graduate there were many times when discovering a new material an aspect of it felt familiar due to its similarity to real world materials, this, for me made the game easy to understand, explore and enjoy.

I also think that this game is a perfect example of alternative art styles in creative games, it highlights that players are willing to accept alternative aesthetics within crafting games, I feel that the theories of Gestalt are very useful to game developers when they incorporate alternative artistic styles to photo realism.

Excerpt from my dissertation:

“In Minecraft before a player can begin to play in a virtual environment, known as a ‘world’, it has to be randomly generated. Although the terrain, resources and environment are randomly generated there are some criteria that can be specified by the player such as difficulty, size and game mode. The game modes fall into three categories; creative, adventure and survival. Creative mode allows players to freely build and design without limitation on items and have very limited combat. The survival mode, which is where the difficulty setting is applied, relies on players to forage the material, fight monsters, find or grow food and slowly build their environment. Adventure mode is similar to survival mode however, in relation to rewards, the game favours survival mode as there is no opportunity to win rewards in the other modes. In the creative mode players have the freedom to set their own goals and experiment with crafting and building. This opportunity to choose not to fight is an interesting addition to a survival type simulation role play game. In addition the opportunity for open accessibility without players being limited by the rarity of materials or objects provides a high level of creative freedom. As articulated by Grow et al. (2017) this allows for creation “… without the cost, effort, and destructive modification of raw materials…” Although removing the need for players to cut down trees for resources eliminates the need for players to consider replanting saplings to replace the trees which have been cut down. This could be viewed as a missed opportunity for sharing important real world impacts of craft materials, in this case deforestation.” Thompson (2020)


  • Boerstra, J., Toivonen, M., Bergensten, J. and Persson, M., 2011. Minecraft. [Platforms] Microsoft Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Raspberry Pi, Universal Windows Platform, Wii U, Nintendo Switch, Apple TV ,Mojang, Microsoft Studios, Sony Computer Entertainment.
  • Grow, A., Dickinson, M., Pagnutti, J., Wardrip-Fruin, N. and Mateas, M., 2017. Crafting In Games. [online] Digitalhumanities.org. Available at: <https://www.digitalhumanities.org/dhq/vol/11/4/000339/000339.html> [Accessed 13 May 2020].
  • Thompson, Shanique (2020) How is the abstract knowledge of craft and material properties shared with the user in simulation role-play video games? M.A. Dissertation. pp. 17–19



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Shanique Thompson

Shanique Thompson

Eclectically skilled indie games designer & researcher interested in crafting in games, budding curator & lingerie researcher {Neurodiverse — Dyslexic Team}