Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by logan from AL. logan Wonders, “How many people are playing minecraft right now?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, logan!

If you're like many kids today, you might regularly grab your pickaxe, mine for a variety of raw materials, and build all sorts of constructions to keep you safe from a variety of dangers. Where does this happen? In the virtual world of Minecraft, of course!

First released as a game for personal computers in May 2009, Minecraft has quickly become one of the most popular video games around the world. In addition to the PC version, Minecraft can now be played on mobile devices and tablets using either Android or iOS operating systems, as well as different video game systems.

How popular has Minecraft become? Since its debut, Minecraft has sold over 55 million copies across all platforms! That's a lot of crafty miners out there.

So what makes Minecraft so popular? Is it incredible graphics? A compelling story? Lifelike worlds to explore? A variety of achievements to pursue? Actually, Minecraft's popularity can't be explained by any of those things that are the hallmarks of most modern video games. In many ways, Minecraft is the exact opposite of most modern games, and that's probably why it's so popular.

Created by Swedish programmer Markus “Notch" Persson and later developed and published by a company called Mojang, Minecraft features graphics straight out of the early 1990s. Instead of starting with a list of specific goals, players enter an open world in which they can explore, mine, and build, deciding along the way exactly how they want to play the game.

Some players compare Minecraft to a virtual sandbox or a box of Legos. There are no characters. There is no story. The joy exists in exploring and letting your imagination shape the way you play, rather than following a storyline or pursuing a series of achievements.

What do you do in Minecraft? The basic activities include exploration, gathering resources, crafting objects and buildings, and fighting villains. There are two main modes in Minecraft: creative and survival.

In creative mode, players have unlimited resources and no health or hunger concerns. You can simply explore, gather resources, and craft at will. Your imagination is the limit.

In survival mode, players must acquire resources and maintain their health and hunger. The goal is survival, and players use their daytime hours to gather what they will need to survive the nighttime hours. Players may face a variety of non-player characters (called mobs), some of which are hostile. Hostile creatures include spiders, skeletons, zombies, and the dreaded Creeper, an exploding creature that can sneak up on players.

While some players play Minecraft by themselves, many players love to play with friends via multiplayer options. For many children, there's nothing like teaming up with a friend and setting out to explore a new virtual world. Using pickaxes to mine a variety of resources, including dirt, stone, ores, water, trees, and precious metals and gems, players can turn those resources into a wide variety of objects and buildings made up of textured 3D blocks.

What types of worlds can you explore in Minecraft? The terrain is virtually infinite. If you explore far and wide, you'll come across plains, mountains, forests, caves, and oceans. You'll also encounter different biomes, from deserts to jungles to arctic ice fields.

Focusing on exploration rather than accomplishment, Minecraft allows players to let their imaginations be their guides. The game you play is yours alone, and you can get lost in it for hours at a time.

Instead of parents and teachers complaining about obsessive video game playing, when it comes to Minecraft many usual video game opponents find much to praise. Minecraft advocates point out that it cleverly teaches teamwork and creativity. Minecraft arguably teaches children a thing or two about geometry and geology, along with skills such as experimentation and problem-solving. Some teachers have even begun to implement elements of the game in the classroom!

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