The two things I've been doing for fun lately are playing Minecraft and learning about Walt Disney. Bear with me as I knit these two things together.
First of all, here is a castle I've been working on for the past week or so:
It is a lot of fun to play Minecraft with my kids. My two sons follow me around on our multiplayer server and help me build stuff. And I never expected that a 3 year old could play Minecraft, but darn he's good... and even on a Survival server!
As for the amazing Disney brand, I grew up with all the classic movies and have visited Disney World with wide-eyed wonder. I've always been impressed with the quality of Disney products, and it definitely would be a dream job for me to work as a Disney Imagineer. But honestly, growing up in the 70's and 80's, I knew almost nothing about the real Walt Disney and how he started it all. So I decided to listen to the Audio CD version of the book Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination. It is a fantastic story, and I highly recommend it to anyone who is a creator of neat stuff that just happens to run a business to justify the effort. Walt went through it all, from obscurity to success, to epic success, to being run by and run down by his company, to reinventing himself and succeeding in the end. It's an interesting story for me personally because I created BlitWise as a way to spend my days taking my dreams and turning them into reality. I can relate. Over the years, I've seen a few of the up's and down's personally that Walt Disney did, but at a much more humble scale. Nonetheless, it struck me that Walt spent 8+ years in a rut between the start of World War II and the late 40's. That's a long time to be in a creative rut! I feel better about taking so long to write a new game, but I digress.
The thing that eventually brought Walt around was a new interest in model trains. People used to criticize him for neglecting his animated movies and playing with toys. But it didn't seem to stop him, and history proved him right for following that passion. From there he got into machining his own parts in his workshop. Then he started collecting miniatures and constructing train tracks. Then it all started to click with his business side and he started getting people to help him make animatronic displays for road shows. This whole phase in his life caused him to switch from using his imagination to make animated movies, to eventually turning his imagination into the real world place called Disneyland.
As I sit here playing Minecraft two to three times a week, I think about how Minecraft feels a lot like locking yourself in a workshop like Walt did and grinding away at creating the perfect place of your dreams. It dawned on me that the same creative spark that saved Walt Disney from his rut, is nearly the same spark that makes Minecraft so incredibly compelling. Minecraft is 'just a game' with some tough challenges to conquer, but it is also a place where there is near infinite room to build and all the time in the world to work things to perfection.
So the next time you sit down to play Minecraft, just remember that the funny itch you have to place just-one-more-block is the same exact itch that inspires people to eventually create real places like Disneyland. So go ahead and place one more block in Minecraft, and then another. You may just discover that the real world might have a need for your ability to imagine something and then place all the blocks needed to make it a reality. It's not just toy, or just a game, it's a gateway to a way of life that I think is good practice for the future makers of the world.
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