During class, someone said that in Minecraft "like in SIMs, you are a person and you are creating a world" while trying to sum up the satisfying appeal to the game. I completely felt this as well while playing. There was something satisfying to being able to control my environment and decide my own course. This is a freedom I don't always have in everyday life because of time constraints, responsibilities, and money. These constraints don't exist in this game.
This comment also reminded me of a project my placement teacher did last year in his geometry class. The assignment was similar to a geometry assignment I've seen many times: design your dream house. The twist was that the class was to use google sketch-up, a google software used to make 3D models (when I worked in a blackbox theater, the set designer did his designs on this). Using sketch-up, the students would make a virtual 3D model of their (roofless) house, and then decorate it.
At fist I was skeptical of the value of using technology in this assignment. Once the students made their blueprints, all of their math was done. The scaling and area-finding were all complete. However, as the project progressed, I saw more to it. There was something hard to pin down that made this assignment better. The computer aspect did something sort of like Minecraft, and I think everyone was more engaged for it. It wasn't just a blueprint, it was a real house in virtual space. Students got very elaborate. They was one student who made an almost fully accurate model of the ship from Star Treck, accessories and all. People were going above and beyond, and suddenly the math mattered a little more. It was important to calculate the cost of painting the walls because you actually wanted them to look good. It was important to calculate area because you want the model people to fit inside the rooms comfortably. There was some of that video game magic. "You are a person and you are creating a world."