SKANEATELES — Nova Smith, 9 punched a zombie in the face.
Smith and the other young members of the “Minecraft” Club in the Skaneateles Library were adventuring as their own custom-made characters in the wildly popular video game on Jan. 4.
The weekly club, which has been going on since November, lets children play the game together on their respective handheld devices, as the game has a function that allows them to play in each other's digitized worlds of their own creation.
“You can play on your own and that's fun, but they can play together,” said Nickie Marquis, the library's director.
“Minecraft” gives players an open, cubic environment they can modify and build upon with a set of tools that allows them to realize almost whatever they want. The creative mode involves players designing their own environments, including meticulously made structures if the player decides to put time into them, while the adventure mode involves fighting and exploration.
The Microsoft-owned game has amassed a devoted following and carved out a large portion of the cultural landscape since it debuted in 2011. Fans often interact on social media, and there are numerous channels on YouTube and other websites dedicated to the game. Spin-offs, adaptations, merchandise and more have spawned from it as well. A feature film is currently set for 2019.
At Skaneateles Library, the children talk to each other while simultaneously dealing with whatever they are doing in the game. The player's digital avatar can be mining for iron and stone one moment, then storming a dungeon-type area with friends the next.
Nova Smith, wearing a Captain America shirt in the real world while exploring his virtual surroundings as a character he created that bears an uncanny resemblance to Spongebob Squarepants, said he enjoys the freedom the game gives, from finding different items to exploring numerous areas to the aforementioned zombie-punching.
“Right now I'm trying to get out of the water,” Nova explained as he attempted to get his character out of a large body of water.
Nova's mother, Melissa Smith, who created the club, was watching her son play in the library. She said she likes the social and educational aspect of “Minecraft,” since major portions of the game involve building things with various resources and figuring out problems.
Tom Franks, who was there with his son Alex Franks, 8, also appreciates the design-based elements.
“Typical game, you're tearing stuff, shooting people,” he said. “In ‘Minecraft' you're making things, making buildings.”