Nonviolence in Minecraft, Part 2
I posted last week about nonviolence in Minecraft. Specifically, I talked about why I find it useful to use Minecraft to explore nonviolence and explained what I mean by nonviolence. This week, I’d like to examine of the more problematic aspects of this, passive mobs. A mob is a mobile entity in Minecraft and they can be either passive or actively hostile. Examples of passive mobs are Cows, Chickens, Sheep and Pigs. Examples of hostile mobs are Zombies, Skeletons and Creepers.
So, why do these passive creatures provide such a problem? The issue is twofold. Firstly, the player has a hunger bar which is depleted by activity. The second part is that certain resources are gained by killing passive mobs. So, what do we do about diet? Well, it’s perfectly possible to be a Vegetarian in Minecraft, I’ve been doing it just fine. The Minecraft Wiki has a number of foods that don’t need an animal to die. Unfortunately in the early stages of the game, you may be forced into killing by a simple lack of available vegetarian food. You can speed things up early on by planting and coppicing Oak trees and waiting for Apple drops and using the banks of waterways to plant Wheat. When planting Wheat, place some torches near to it to keep the light level up on the squares at night. This will keep it growing at night. Advantages later in the game are that you can very easily produce large amounts of food by arable farming. Also Sugar Cane, Pumpkin and Melon have their uses elsewhere so an arable farm is a worthwhile investment. Cactii are also worth your time as they can provide another layer of defence and also green dye when cooked in an oven.
This does bring us to the more difficult problem of the other resources these creatures provide. For example, arrows can only be made with a feather. You get a feather by killing a chicken. Books and leather armour need leather, this is obtained from cows. This is quite a bit more serious as anything that uses books will require premeditated killing. But, there are workarounds. Arrows, leather armour and books can be obtained by trading with villagers and other players.
This begins to allow us to form a more concrete position with regards to nonviolence. The first is that all other avenues should be explored before resorting to killing passive mobs. The second is that a longer term view may be beneficial with regards to getting these resources via trade and that it may be the case that tactics would have to be changed if things like leather armour and arrows were unavailable.
What does this allow us to bring out of Minecraft to the real world? At this point I think we can say that “instant gratification” can lead to ethical issues fairly quickly. It also looks as if it can be simpler to follow ethical and nonviolent positions if you can be flexible on how you do things and take the longer term view.