Over the weekend, after months of pressure from my children, I started playing Minecraft on my iPhone. The children play it on the iPad, in creative mode, trundling around in unlimited diamond armor. Being an adult, I settled into survival mode: spawned onto the savanna, got slaughtered by monsters of the night for a while, and eventually dug a secure, well-lighted home into the side of a little mountain. The children coached me on how to make a bed and build a furnace and grow wheat.
Monday, something deeply weird happened. I went into the game, which I’d paused at some safe, familiar stopping point the day before, and found my character in a decidedly unsafe and unfamiliar situation. He was halfway up a cliff face, overlooking the front yard, in the middle of the night.
I wasn’t sure where I’d left the game, but I definitely had not left it with my character clinging to a ledge in the dark. I didn’t see a good way down, so I got my sword and prepared to fall, hoping I’d survive the plunge with enough health left to fight off whatever monsters showed up on the sprint back to the front door.
I stepped off the ledge—and suddenly my character was secure in bed, with the “Leave Bed” button floating over the covers.
My first thought was that I’d died hitting the ground and respawned in bed. But there was no cause-of-death message, and my inventory and experience were intact. From all the dying I’d done before, I knew that respawning should have zeroed those out.
No, I’d left the cliff as smoothly and inexplicably as I’d gotten there. One moment I was in trouble, and the next moment I was not.
If it was a glitch, it was a glitch that perfectly matched the logic of a bad dream. In retrospect, I was pretty sure I’d left the game the night before with my character in bed. Somehow he turned up helpless and in danger, and then woke up again at home, unharmed.
I’m playing a completely unmodified Pocket Edition. It loaded onto my iPhone when I put it on the iPad for the kids at Christmas. There was no way the kids could have gotten into my game and messed around—I kept the phone on me all day, and I haven’t synced anything in weeks. They denied any knowledge of the situation, and they said they’d never experienced anything like it.
I tried Googling about dreams in Minecraft, but all I found was a bunch of people writing about how Minecraft had worked its way into their own dreams. (As someone who quit Tetris cold turkey 26 years ago when I couldn’t stop picturing blocks falling from the ceiling during a rock show, I can relate.) I asked the Kotaku staff, but no one recognized the dream-glitch. Write it up and ask the readers, someone suggested.
I was too alarmed and confused to have taken any screen shots. To illustrate this post, I figured I’d just go into the game and snap a picture of the “Leave Bed” screen. I knew for certain that I’d left the game last time with the character in bed. So I opened Minecraft—
—and there I was, up on the cliff again, in the dark, in the same place or somewhere near it. This time, however, instead of theoretical monsters, I had two zombies right in my face, clambering toward me.
I didn’t have enough faith in dream logic to step off into the void, so I drew my stone sword and started hacking. The zombies died, but not before inflicting a little damage. My guy was definitely in the real-world version of his world now. I guess he had been sleepwalking.
I scurried him down the steep slope, ran for the door, and got him back into bed. Where he’ll wake up, I can’t guess.