When we posted about the (potentially) evil genius who built a 3D printer in Minecraft, we seem to have missed an important point.  Maybe you missed it too.  Or, maybe you started twitching and fuming as soon as you read that he was using logic blocks.  Logic blocks, you may have hissed to yourself (or your cat, or your Swedish supermodel girlfriend/boyfriend/polgenderous spacemate).  He can’t brag about something he did using logic blocks!  That’s cheating!  

If you count yourself among the second type of person described up there, then there’s a good chance that your cat or Swedish supermodel girlfriend/boyfriend/polygenderous spacemate looked at you in confused silence.  “Cheating” at Minecraft implies that somebody, somewhere is “winning” at Minecraft.  Charlie Sheen jokes aside, “winning” is not a huge part of why most people adore this game.  So, why the controversy?

Because logic blocks are a mod feature (available here) that lets you take shortcuts, that’s why.  Basically, they save you a little bit of time and space when constructing AND gates as well as memory cells.  Some people are quick to point out that logic blocks are for lazy people.  After all, they only save you a little bit of space, time, and material, and they let you take shor tcuts around some of the in-game limitations that make Minecraft such a fun challenge for so many players.  I’m not going to judge these people, but I am going to take a second here to point out that my neighbor who butchers roosters in her garage feels the exact same way about boneless, skinless chicken breasts.

The people who adore logic blocks, on the other hand, adore them for the exact same reason that I get my chicken from a vacuum-sealed package.  It is absolutely true that finding a free rooster on Craigslist and butchering it myself would take maybe 20 minutes longer.  It is also absolutely true that I want fried chicken a lot more than I want the challenge, the experience, and the satisfaction of making fried chicken out of a live rooster.  Am I cheating when I waltz into my kitchen, blood-free and decent-smelling, to casually bread my conveniently packaged white meat  and toss it into the frying pan?

My neighbor, for whom fried chicken is the culmination of a grisly ritual requiring a lot more skill and effort than I want to put into my food, will tell you that I am absolutely cheating (actually, I don’t know what she would tell you; I have a hard time approaching girls who dismember animals with bolt cutters).  My neighbor and I, though, are really playing completely different games with completely different objectives.

Minecraft can be the same way, and that’s why we love it.  One person may be playing just to see how much he/she can do despite the limitations inherent in the game, and another may be playing solely for the ambition of building a mechanical monstrosity like ItsJustJumby’s 3-D printer.  Logic blocks don’t give you a new ability or fundamentally change the physics of the game–they just save you a little time and material if you’re one of the latter type of players.  Whether using logic blocks counts as “cheating” isn’t a question of who’s right and who’s wrong; it’s a question of why you’re playing Minecraft and what you want to get out of the game.