Most games today are pretty mindless. They are designed for zoning out and killing time. Don't think, just shoot whatever the latest excuse for plot puts in front of you.
It is the lowest common denominator that the big game developers bet on, and it's what mostly makes them money.
Minecraft is from a whole other world. Developed by a lone programmer, initially sold over the internet, devoid of violence, obsessed with creation, everything about it is different.
Now, all those who exclusively game on their Xbox 360s can also share in this phenomenon - although, even the migration to Xbox Live Arcade seems like a bit of a compromise on the indie romanticism. But then, in this case the compromise is worth it.
In case you don't yet know, Minecraft is a game in which you build things. You find yourself in a strange, randomly generated world that is essentially made of blocks. Everything in your environment can be harvested and turned into something else. Chop down a tree to make some planks for your house, and so on.
Just this sandbox would have been enough to make for some enjoyable experimentation, but the extra element introduced by the dangerous creatures that come out at night reframes the game completely. While you can spend all day tinkering with your creations, when night falls you better be somewhere safe.
This day-night cycle of building and hiding, while your house or whatever slowly takes shape, gives the game an addictive rhythm. It is not a stretch to compare this rhythm to the rhythms of the diary entries in a book like Robinson Crusoe.
The PC version probably remains the definitive Minecraft experience, but the XBLA incarnation has turned out surprisingly well. It would have been easy to make things too complicated for the format, but sensible decisions about things like the control scheme helped keep things on track. It is easy and intuitive to pick up and play - and doesn't feel at all like a port of a PC game.
All of which is great news. It means that the creative pleasures of Minecraft will now be available to a wider audience. And, while i couldn't care less about whether people play the latest blockbuster shooter, getting more people to create and play in the world of Minecraft must be a good thing.
Score: 9 out of 10