Blocky video games are simple. They lack complexity, they look like toys. They make you believe you can reach in and play, build, craft, combine.
This can seem like a step backward from the trend of photorealistic games that have been coming out recently, as seen in this still from Unreal Engine 4. This is not a photo. It is a still from a video game and is all completely computer generated.
This is a huge step from old NES games, and completely different from Blocky games of today.
Then came mobile devices. They lack the graphical capability of game consoles and computers, and forced developers to start from the beginning. With this came a rush of indie developers learning how to code and make new games that let players create their own experiences.
There is something simple and approachable about pixel format games. It takes technology that is so immersive and nuanced and complex and takes it down for all levels of gamers to be able to play it and enjoy.
Blocky video games keep popping up everywhere, with one of the most popular and most utilized being Minecraft. Technology does not have to be cutting edge to make you feel something, and Minecraft and others do just that.
The lesson for teachers in this latest trend of blocky video games is this: In your lesson design, scale back the general ambitions, and give students something accessible. Playful.
Something that is approachable, scalable, and sustainable.
It’s easy to make things complex because it’s interesting, but a take a lesson from these games. Things don’t have to be the most complex to be wildly successful.