Talking Minecraft with Adam Clarke, Artist and Digital Producer
January 04 2021
By Tim Deakin
Ahead of his Digital Summit talk on Tuesday 23rd February, Adam Clarke gives a glimpse into the content of his session – “The story is more important than the Pixel” – and shares how 2020 has seen an explosion of creativity in the video game space.
Originally trained as an illustrator, Adam Clarke has been making interesting Museum projects in Minecraft for over a decade. Over that time he’s built a reputation as one of the most innovative Minecraft creative producers in the world, developing projects in collaboration with the likes of Tate Britain, Disney and Artichoke Trust. Adam is also a Director of the Official Minecraft Marketplace Map creators group, Wandering Wizards.
While 2020 has been a tough year for many people, the global restrictions on movement have served to keep more of us inside and, as a result, closely tied to our digital devices. One notable effect of this has been a dramatic increase in video game usage and, most interestingly for Adam, a boom in the creative use of video games.
“Games are now places to create, to remix, to collaborate and to discover,” he says. “That’s never been more important to people – particularly the younger generation – at a time when face-to-face interaction has been limited.”
Above: Tate Worlds by Adam Clarke
As the role of video games as social spaces becomes ever more apparent, it is not surprising to see that their popularity has exploded through the course of a pandemic – at a time when most other forms of social interaction have been restricted.
“This collaborative approach and way of staying connected is important: from an artistic and creative perspective, but also from a social perspective. We all know that with headsets and fast connections, gamers can play FIFA or Call of Duty with their friends. That has undoubtedly been valuable during this period of lockdown. But I’ve also seen first-hand how my son and his friends have been using Minecraft to create as a group. They learn to work together; to collaborate; to build stuff as a team. You see all the conflicts of the playground; then you see them share new ideas and feed off each other’s creativity – those are valuable skills that are important during those formative years. Not only that but the content that creative gamers are producing is really impressive.”
As he discusses in his talks to museums, educators and those across the arts and culture sector, the potential for digital content is endless. And millions of creators of all ages and backgrounds now have the tools and the platform to create works of real merit – both within their own online communities and beyond.
“It isn’t about having coding ability or being a software developer. Through games like Minecraft anyone can be a creator. The only limit really is your own imagination and that puts some really exciting possibilities at the hands of anyone with a Playstation controller.
“Once you’ve put your own content out there the fantastic thing is that artwork or content can then become collaborative and others can take your creation and remix it. So, you’re finding that there are not only content creators working from their bedrooms but also curators who are blending together different ideas for themselves and their audience
Above: Great Fire of London in Minecraft for Museum of London
“One of the most exciting things about this is that it’s so accessible and will draw in artists and creators from all walks of life. This gives museums, or any organisation really, the opportunity to commission from content creators and then let that content out into the wild so that other people can mix it and give it over to the community.”
As Adam intends to discuss at MuseumNext’s Digital Summit, the potential for utilising platforms like Minecraft across the arts and culture industry is still at any embryonic stage. Yet there are already some fine examples to be seen from those willing to explore the possibilities.
“The thing I love about museums is that they often provide us with the best source material – material that we can interpret, contextualise and visualise in pixel form. We can add genuine value. I see museums as the best places for inspiration and gaming has a role to play in making that accessible, contextualised and remixed.”
“There are also many instances of live performance and live theatre delivered in Minecraft. That really gives content creators the opportunity to innovate and engage their audience in new and interesting ways – and perhaps showcase their core content – be it rap music or a Shakespearean play in a new way.
At February’s Digital Summit, Adam will explore some of the finest examples of Minecraft in action. He will also look to discuss some of the barriers and obstacles that remain between video games and more traditional Arts and Culture content delivery.
“The challenge, perhaps, lies in conveying the value of this particular medium to funders – an issue I’m always keen to help institutions and organisations address.”