Outburst #008: What’s your DPI?


Running around a grassy field, people brandish their pick axes and hack away at tree stumps, cave walls, and oinking pigs (or clucking chickens, if you prefer).

MineCraft is an open-exploration-build-anything-with-the-materials-you-have-gathered world game. The game world is essentially made up of cubical blocks arranged in a fixed grid pattern (MineCraft’s signature artistic style), that represent different materials, such as dirt, stone, various ores, water, tree trunks, etc. While the players can move freely across the world, objects and items can only be placed at fixed locations relative to the grid. The player can gather these material “blocks” and place them elsewhere, thus potentially creating various constructions. The game has no set goals, and cannot be won.And even though there are no winners, I’ve always found killing a block-pig with a diamond pick to be quite amusing.

I have never bought the game, nor have I personally played MineCraft, but needless to say, after having seen YouTube VODS and suite mates waste hours on the game, MineCraft is definitely, a gigantic game. The digital depth and sheer size of the world you inhabit (as well as the pacing of collecting materials, and THEN building things with what you collected) suddenly make MineCraft a world that is fun to inhabit. Well…is it?

I began to wonder, what would it be like if reality had the same resolution, not as the ones we have now with microscopic molecules and atoms, but similar to that of MineCraft, large blocks the size of your head.

It is both fascinating and thought-provoking to play with the idea of an alternative reality, be it of low-res or other-worldly physics, wondering what our existence would be like in the context differing lifestyles. In this particular context, having a world built from cubic substituents imposes problems different from those that arise in worlds such as Mario’s, where resolution is limited by how many polygonal triangles form the 3D model. 3D pixels create a strange step-like appearance and a limited degree of freedom to represent real-world objects. In fact, certain things cannot be represented properly (as block-pigs in MineCraft exist in contrary to the 1 block subset formation) with the resolution we are given. This introduces a certain creativeness in the approach of how people attempt to create things that resemble objects from real life.

While I would ask you to close your eyes so that we better imagine what I’m talking about, we’d probably have difficulty getting any further in the post than if your eyes were open. So do what you will. Imagine having x-ray vision, but instead of being able to see the physical composition of an object via electromagnetic radiation,  you can see the origins of an object. You’re heightened visual perception allows you to see through the “surface” of all things and see their “soul” or “true meaning” in this world. It’s as if you “understand” your existence relative to everything else around you. Now, even though this may sound totally like garbage, I’ve had this experience several times during the wee hours of the night. It is as if my brain’s processing power has suddenly increased and the large intake information from neural signals and stimuli are no problem. Granted, there is still a limit or cap on all this info-flow (hehe, Blair peeps), since imagining and infinite amount of information into your brain is difficult, but you get the idea. I can’t say whether any of you have had similar experiences, but over the course of a month, each day possesses a slightly different level of awareness about myself, my surroundings, and my life. It’s fascinatingly strange to wake up one morning, super-wide awake, and super keen about everything.

Perhaps these varying frequencies of firing neurons are related to daily health habits including sleep schedules and food diets. I don’t know. I just want my block-pork burrito.

Note: I’ve realized all of my posts are like stream of conscious ah-this-is-interesting-about-reality-but-i-have-no-conclusion-to-make-from-it-and-will-just-say-it-is-fascinating-and-say-idk. What kind of fail is that? I even end each post with a super lame comment that somehow reconnects to a statement made previously in the post just to not make myself seem dumb. Maybe I’ll try to fix that in the future. Ah well…

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