I've been reading Melanie McBride's tweets and blog posts about the cool things she and her colleagues have been attempting with Minecraft. I love hearing all about it because something was resonating, and I only just realized what it was - there are a lot of similarities (in my household anyways) between Minecraft as I've read about it and Lego Universe.
Lego Universe? Lego? The big toy empire that has moved away from the wonderful "build anything you want out of generic pieces" creator to the creatively limiting "buy this set to make this piece" guiding principles? Believe it or not, yes, our family has found a lot of openness with the Lego Universe MMO that we didn't expect to find, especially when examining the current product lines.
My husband explains it better than I do, because he plays it more than I do. (Okay, I've only just watched them play - I confess. Right now I don't have time to get into a new game.) He tells me that, unless World of Warcraft (one of his fondest pastimes for the previous five years), gaining achievements in Lego Universe is so much more accommodating than in WoW. In WoW, you have to grind a certain way, do a certain quest ... but in Lego Universe, you can do the things YOU want and develop the points you want/need. Want to spend time building dwellings in your blockyard? You can get rewarded for it. Rather do some exploring of all the different lands? You can get rewarded for it. Want to find some friends to complete quests? You can get rewarded for it. I hate to throw in an edu-babble word in here, but it differentiates success. Not all players have to play the same way. And that's a good thing. The Lego Universe / Minecraft connection may be a weak one (especially since we've never played Minecraft), but it'd be cool to find out (by playing Minecraft) if there are other similarities or differences.