I’m not a Minecraft fan. Actually, I have to admit I’ve never even played the game. I know, I know. I’m sorry, okay? Put those pitchforks down, please. Those childlike images filled with creepers and cuboid zombies really don’t appeal to me. Yet, having just savoured a book called Beautiful Minecraft by James Delaney, I’m now seeing a whole other side to the game that’s totally blown me away.
Beautiful Minecraft is, in no uncertain terms, beautiful. It’s a collection of some of the most profound and amazing structures that have been created in Minecraft‘s Creative mode. If you’re a Minecraft player, you will look at the book and appreciate the incredible amount of effort that has gone into designing and building each creation. If, like me, you’ve never played the game, then you’ll look at the book and will appreciate the astounding beauty of each creation as a worthy piece of art in its own right. It’s a beautiful coffee table book; one that you’ll want to pick up time and time again, just to flick through for a few minutes at a time, to revel in the beauty of each design.
Every piece of art featured in Beautiful Minecraft is from BlockWorks, or an individual member of the team. They’re a team of Minecraft builders, animators and artists often commissioned to create Minecraft projects as pieces of art for various companies. These aren’t ordinary, regular Joe Minecraft builders; they are extremely talented individuals who work with specialist tools in order to create quickly and effectively. Beautiful Minecraft may inspire you to go off and build your own Minecraft-based masterpieces, but it’ll probably only serve to disappoint you when your own creation ends up looking like something a five-year old has built. Or perhaps that’ll just be me.
Beautiful Minecraft is separated into nine chapters, each covering a different type of model, from landscapes to sculptures to mechanical marvels. It’s punctuated with short essays from members of the BlockWorks team, all talking about what Minecraft means to them and how they came to work with BlockWorks. It’s a fascinating insight into Minecraft’s importance in today’s gaming world, and how something that appears to be nothing more than a Children’s game can actually be a very important design tool.
The designs in the book range from the reasonably large to the holy-shit-that’s-crazy huge. One of my favourites on show is Andrzej Czerniewski’s Phain – Game Board of the Ancients. It’s a massive, sprawling landscape made up of no less than ten billion blocks. It took one builder a full year to build. Even the ‘smallest’ models are intricately detailed – Paul Fuch’s Ctulhu is gorgeously crafted of 100,000 blocks and took one builder 14 days to create.
Whether you’re interested in Minecraft or a lover of art and design, Beautiful Minecraft is well worth a look. It can be purchased directly from the publisher, No Starch Press, or via Amazon (where a ‘look inside’ preview is available).
Here’s a small selection of pages from the book. Click the images to see a larger version.