To the casual observer Minecraft is an open world sandbox game with graphics like a throwback to the days of Paper Boy. But as a handful of players discovered Minecraft can also be used as an analogy to our own world, and almost scarily so.

Thirty players volunteered to take part in something called the ‘Closed Map Experiment.’ Their map was a 350×350 piece of land sealed in bedrock. Their only rule was to not leave the walls. Going into the experiment most were unaware how devastating the consequences of their actions would be. The first resource to completely disappear was clay. Brick homes were left mostly unfinished and players fought for the last blocks of brick. Because wood is an essential part of Minecraft, trees and saplings became highly valuable. Players gathered, farmed, and horded as much wood and as many saplings as they could. Four large clans came together, “The Brotherhood,” “The Axe,” “The Dwarves,” and the most successful “Merchants Guild.”

Three weeks in flowers were completely gone. Sand was becoming scarce making glass rare and hard to come by. Obsidian was un-mineable due to the lack of diamond. The clans resorted to war between each other for diamond, raiding and greifing their respective bases. It was at this point players noticed a lack in something highly important to the game, grass. Grass was being depleted rapidly and the clans immediately forgot about waring for diamond and raced to save their own patches of surface grass.

After five weeks most players lost the will to play. The map had become unsurvivable at night. Massive chasms opened from players over-mining. Huge amounts of cobblestone was lost, leaving the map bare all the way to bedrock in one corner. Players resorted to building dirt huts to survive the night due to not being able to afford the item tax the Merchants Guild had placed on things like sticks. The experiment ended after two months. The map was devastated. The only patch of land still open to the world was held by the The Brotherhood.

Even though this experiment was only a simulation ran out of curiosity by a handful of players, it speaks loudly about the human condition. Perhaps everyone should stop and reflect on the results of the experiment.

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