With over 112 million monthly players and 176 million copies sold, nearly everyone has heard of or played Minecraft. If you are a parent with tweens or teens, it is very possible that Minecraft is a constant topic of conversation at your house and that Minecraft Let’s Play videos are the soundtrack to your life.
Which is why Minecraft: The Exhibition at Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) is opening at the perfect time; the game is old enough that many adults have played it over the last decade, but still enough of a phenomenon that their kids are still playing today. If you’ve spent any time wandering it’s blocky world you will feel right at home as you enter the exhibit through a villager’s house with a boxy birch tree in the front yard, dodging an exploding Creeper.
Brooks Peck, senior curator at MoPOP was thrilled to work with Minecraft developer Mojang to bring Minecraft to MoPOP, saying that “…Minecraft is not only a game that allows for unlimited creativity and exchange of ideas, it also promotes inclusiveness and equality, which are core to MoPOP’s mission.”
The exhibit itself has been percolating at MoPOP for over four years, and does an amazing job of presenting Minecraft in way that will interest both experienced and casual players, along with people that know very little about the game. Life size statues of the players and mobs (which is what Minecraft calls friendly and not so friendly creatures in the game) are spread throughout the exhibit and each of them is setup to be a photo opportunity. Each highly stylized room walks you through an important part of the game, from the bed that acts as your home base, to a working crafting table and finally a trip into The Nether, Minecraft’s underworld where you are greeted by Pigmen and a lava waterfall.
Once you are familiar with the game and it’s inner workings, the exhibit leads you into a large free play area, where you can actually play Minecraft: on a huge screen in a multiplayer game with your family, by yourself on a PC, or you can try your hand at special “modded” versions of the game that allow you to play minigames using Minecraft as the framework.
In addition to playing Minecraft just for fun, a large educational community has sprung up around the game with the release of the Minecraft Education Edition. This allows schools to purchase volume licenses and helps kids explore not only coding and math exercises, but cultural ones as well. The exhibit highlights multiple different ways that Minecraft has impacted different areas of the world, and lets you play Ngā Motu, a Minecraft Education Edition module that lets you visit the island of Ngā Motu and learn about the indigenous language, culture and people of Aotearoa (New Zealand).
Like a lot of parents in their 30s and 40s, I played Minecraft when it first came out, but fell off the game before my son started playing it. We still play together, but more and more I just get to see the amazing creations that he makes inside the game. But from the second I saw the exterior of the exhibit to the moment I left, I was struck by constant waves of nostalgia. Every room held a new secret, a new amazing mob statue or a new amazing interactive element that left a constant smile on my face. If you love Minecraft or have a child that loves Minecraft, this is a must see opportunity.
Minecraft: The Exhibit opens on October 19th and runs through September 7, 2020 (at which point it will tour other museums around the US). MoPop Members can access an exclusive preview on October 18th and a grand opening weekend is planned for October 19-20 with immersive activities, photo ops, arcade play and more.