Tuesday, February 14, 2017

'Beautiful Minecraft' Book Review

Beautiful Minecraft, James Delaney. 112 Pages, Hardcover, 2016. No Starch Press. (8 out of 10)
I'm a relative newcomer to the world of Minecraft. My sons have played it for years now, but I really just started getting into it myself this last summer. My younger son put me through a kind of boot camp where I had to put in sixty hours of Minecraft in about ten days...and by the end of that, I loved it. I'm not a pro, in fact I'm still a "noob" according to the kids. But I dig it. (get it?!) Sometimes it takes a greater vision to see the real potential of a building tool, and that's what you get in No Starch Press's new book, Beautiful Minecraft.  
The hardcover book is a collection of dozens of different builds from James Delaney and his colleagues at BlockWorks -- a consortium of Minecraft builders that collaborate on large scale projects. They run the gamut from real world architecture to science fiction to sculpture, and each page is astounding, with details you'll be exploring for hours. There are nine chapters in Beautiful Minecraft -- 
  • Fantasy Worlds
  • The Builds of Tomorrow
  • More Than a Game
  • Sculptures
  • Building a Place in the World
  • Mechanical Marvels
  • Re-creations
  • Playful Design
  • Landscapes
Each has favorite builds for me; Mats Heiberg's "Babel" is a particular favorite. The gothic-inspired ornate island palace/cathedral/magical realm is beautiful in scope and detail. We don't get much information about the builds -- evidently "Babel" was all Heiberg working alone, and comprises 8 million blocks and took 31 days to build. Which is insane. But the results speak for themselves. 
 Minecraft Babel

Something it's difficult to get a sense of with the builds is the scale of them -- most of these aren't built on a conventional Minecraft scale (scaled to the size of Steve and the Creepers), but they use the blocks as smaller pieces to build structures of greater scope. 
The spaceships and stations are another favorite section in the book -- seeing how visions of the future could be interpreted in Minecraft is something that I hadn't even considered while building my own little worlds. Again, the scale of these is difficult to comprehend, but they're stunning in the complexity of their design. 

Minecraft Space Station

I'm not sure what I was expecting with Beautiful Minecraft -- it makes a good companion piece to some of No Starch's other books in a Beautiful LEGO series. They both bring attention to the use of these children's games and toys as a legitimate art form. Just as Nathan Sawaya's LEGO sculptures have made people see the potential in plastic bricks, the artists (and they are artists) in Beautiful Minecraft make an argument for how this highly pixelated game can be used as a medium. 

Minecraft Sculptures

My one issue with the book is that there isn't enough text from the builders. There are a few short pages explaining some of the process, but not much about the inspiration behind the projects. There aren't "artist statements" that I feel would be illuminating, especially to some of the more abstract pieces. The bits we do get are so interesting -- the difference between creating a sculpture in Minecraft (above) and sculpting in stone, for example. I would like to see more of that. 
In my own book Play Like a Pirate: Engage Students with Toys, Games, and Comics I have a section on Minecraft with a lot of ideas for how to use it in the classroom. I never considered how it could be used as a medium for "digital sculpting." But looking at these examples, there's a lot of potential there. Even to use as a 3D render before moving on to create the sculpture in other media, but using a platform that kids are already very familiar with. Because when it comes down to it, they are. The kids in your classroom know Minecraft. If they don't, their best friend or sibling or parent does. With support from books like Beautiful Minecraft, with Minecraft EDU becoming more robust with each update, this is a tool you're going to want to learn about. This book can be a good place to start. 

Subscribe to the Play Like a PIRATE Newsletter!

* indicates required
Email Format


  1. Really I enjoy your site with effective and useful information. It is included very nice post with a lot of our resources.thanks for share. i enjoy this post. book of ra

  2. Jetzt, da du auf der Seite gelandet bist - lasst uns nicht Zeit verschwenden und das beliebte Casino-Spiel spielen. Buch von Ra! Einer der mehrjährigen https://bookofras.com/ Liebling der fortgeschrittenen Online-Spieler, das ist ein intensiv geliebtes Spiel.

  3. I’m going to read this. I’ll be sure to come back. thanks for sharing. and also This article gives the light in which we can observe the reality. this is very nice one and gives indepth information. thanks for this nice article... minecraft servers

  4. Hurrah! At last I got a website from where I know how to truly obtain helpful data concerning my study and knowledge.
    Independent Escort in Gurgaon
    High Profile Escort in Delhi
    Female Escort in Aerocity
    Escorts Services in Gurgaon

  5. Nice! thank you so much! Thank you for sharing. Your blog posts are more interesting and informative. I think there are many people like and visit it regularly, including me.
    Escorts Services in Gurgaon
    Roshani Beautiful Gurgaon Escorts
    Gurgaon Escorts Services

  6. I was reading some of your content on this website and I conceive this internet site is really informative ! Keep on putting up. Minecraft Servers

  7. without hesitation click about descriptive essay and see how to improve writing

  8. high-quality publish, very useful. I consider why the opposite experts of this industry do now not realize this. You must proceed your composing. i am assured, you’ve a massive readers’ base already!
    Escorts in Gurgaon, Female Escorts in Gurgaon | Gurgaon Escorts, Independent Escorts in Gurgaon

  9. The weblog site web page or and outstanding this is very useful to keep i will discuss the ideasof the long lasting as this is truly what i was looking for, i am very secure and grateful to come right here. thank you very a lot.
    Female Escorts in Gurgaon | Gurgaon Independent Escorts in Delhi | Beautiful Gurgaon Escorts | Affordable Escorts in Gurgaon | Gurgaon Escorts Service, Sofiya Loani | Escorts in Gurgaon

  10. We know the value of every single customer and their money as well. ESCORTS IN LAHORE

  11. I love the way you write and share your niche! Very interesting and different! Keep it coming! amazing children's book

  12. lOVE TO PLAY THIS GAME AT SHCOOL. Keep reading about freeminecraftunblocked.info.


  13. Typically, the place should be quiet and comfortable so you are able to relax and concentrate on the book that you are reading. preschool storytime

  14. I know site skins4minecraft.com with best skins list. If you interestes, visit on it please)

  15. Thanks for sharing the post.. parents are worlds best person in each lives of individual..they need or must succeed to sustain needs of the family. children moral

  16. At last Minecraft enables us to do this which is extremely great. I comprehend players can thoroughly worship the amusement when they initiate playing it. This is key as it makes the gamer feel imperative, similar to they are having a genuine obligation in how the world advances.best minecraft servers

  17. thanks for this usefull article, waiting for this article like this again. g2a discount cashback code

  18. I found that site very usefull and this survey is very cirious, I ' ve never seen a blog that demand a survey for this actions, very curious... authors promotion

  19. i read a lot of stuff and i found that the way of writing to clearifing that exactly want to say was very good so i am impressed and ilike to come again in future.. fnaf world update 3

  20. It's a little more forgivable for warrior types but even in this case there are many games which allow for dozens of different fighting styles.
    Unblocked Games 333

  21. Positive site, where did u come up with the information on this posting? I'm pleased I discovered it though, ill be checking back soon to find out what additional posts you include. games like minecraft

  22. This is a great inspiring article.I am pretty much pleased with your good work.You put really very helpful information...
    Mobdro APK PC Download

  23. I’m excited to uncover this page. I need to to thank you for ones time for this particularly fantastic read!! I definitely really liked every part of it and i also have you saved to fav to look at new information in your site.
    Azar VIP APK

  24. I really loved reading your blog. It was very well authored and easy to understand. Unlike other blogs I have read which are really not that good.Thanks alot!free ludo star download apk

  25. Wonderful illustrated information. I thank you about that. No doubt it will be very useful for my future projects. Would like to see some other posts on the same subject!
    GTA 5 apk download