Why is Minecraft so popular and addictive

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

What the ?

when i first saw someone playing Minecraft i was annoyed. I didn't understand what's that boring Game. but after sometime i started hearing the name more often until i learned that it became one of the most popular games of all time!

When that happened i went back to the game, started analyzing it and managed to understand what's going on. As usual when something becomes popular for no logical reasons you need to look for the illogical reasons.

Or to put that statement in different words; When you fail to understand why people like something because of conscious reasons look for unconscious ones. Just like every product humans use communicates with the subconscious mind Minecraft also communicates with the subconscious mind in a certain way. But the way Minecraft does that communication is the reason behind it's addictive nature.

Why is Minecraft so popular and addictive

Every game people play gives them the ability to self express themselves by identifying with the main character. People like the games that allow them to identify with the characters that represent them the most.

This is why games that allow users to choose certain avatars have an edge over games that lets all players control the same exact character. Now when it comes to Minecraft things are totally different simply because there is no clear objective.

Do you want to be a warrior? You can do that on Minecraft
Do you want to be farmer? That's also possible
Do you want to be a builder? That's possible too

In other words Minecraft has infinite possibilities when it comes to self expression and this is why it's one of the rare games that is liked by both males and females.

Novelty plus variable rewards

In my previous article Why new things make us feel good i explained how the human mind is wired to check out new stuff. We see the same things everyday and feel bored but when we see something we haven't seen before it quickly gets our attention.

Minecraft is all about novelty. You can do things there you haven't done in any other game. What about building a castle or even visiting hell? Those are examples of Novel experiences that quickly catch the attention of humans and keep them hooked.

In my article about Candy crush's popularity i explained how variable rewards can easily lead to addiction. Each time you use a slot machine you get a different result and this is why you might get addicted to it. The same goes for candy crush and Minecraft.

In the later you never know what kind of material you will find when you dig in the floor. A useful item can be hidden anywhere in the game or even under the ground. People get addicted to those variable rewards and that's why they keep playing the game for long periods of time.

Put a social factor on top of that and you are done

Humans are social beings. We are hard wired to connect with one another and to avoid isolation. In addition to all of the previous factors described above Minecraft is an online social game. You can visit your friends, meet people or even destroy someone's house.

When the social factor is added to a game that contains so many addictive factors as the ones described above it takes addiction to a new level. Yes there might be other reasons behind the popularity of Minecraft but certainly those are among the most important ones.

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