At first glance you might think Minecraft and Second Life are very different, and you would be right. Second Life is a virtual world built by people that came from a 3D modeling background. They tried to dumb down modeling tools so they would be more accessible. Minecraft is built by a programmer. Making things is very easy but has an unbelievable depth.
In Second Life people made games to play but the foundation of the experience was not based on game dynamics. Minecraft is. There are monsters in Minecraft that can kill you. That makes it a game first and a shared virtual world that you can build things in second.
Minecraft has no documentation and instead relies on social networks and players posting tips, tutorials and crafting recipes. When you first launch Minecraft you are placed in a world with nothing and no clear idea of what you are suppose to do. Very quickly you realize not only are you not alone but that you are in danger. Night falls quickly on your first day and if you don’t do a few basic but important tasks you will die.
I am sure all of this seems pretty basic but there is much more beneath the surface (haha.)
Secondly, Minecraft has a mining resource called Redstone. With redstone you can make wires and energy sources. What could you do with that?
So why does Minecraft matter? Its an indie game that has made it big because of social networks. It is very basic but very deep. Its just getting going and already people have showed many amazing creations.