Up until yesterday I'd never played Minecraft with the sound on. I can only get on at night, when the rest of the household is asleep and ever since a minor incident involving a screaming woman sound effect and my computer at two in the morning I've made it a personal policy to mute any electronic devices that can possibly emit noise while I'm using them. Or use headphones, I guess, but I didn't own a pair of headphones anymore. I ran them over with a lawnmower, which is another story altogether.

Yesterday, I got a pair of headphones. So in to the computer they go, and I test the volume to make sure it's alright, then boot up Minecraft. At first it was all right, the music wasn't really anything special. I must say it's sort of eerie that the music just fades in and out, and the monster sound effects are very helpful to prevent and ambush. Monster sound effects are about twice as loud as anything else, and typically mean you have a quarter second to draw a weapon and turn or you'll die in a horrible explosion or make a human (blockman?) pincushion or some other horrific fate.


Unbeknownst to me at the time, the game settings include something called "Ambient Noises." While this may seem patently obvious, the setting does not actually mean chirping birds and babbling brooks. It's actually a kind of sound-based cue that tells you a cave is near. Caves are defined as any area within about 30 or so blocks that is large enough to spawn a monster and dark. This means that if you like to dig tunnels without stopping, or if you improperly light an area, then it can trigger the noises. Even without spawning a monster.

But the hypothetical reader in front of me scoffs still. "Well of course it won't be chirping birds and babbling brooks! It's caves! It's probably echoes and dripping water. Just a little ambiance!" To you, hypothetical reader, I laugh. Yes, it is a little ambiance. It is not mundane little noises. "Ambient Noises" triggers the groans of monsters. It randomly chooses a single monster and makes its battle noises, regardless of whether they actually are present or not.

Now you see what I'm getting at. Especially as I didn't know this until I looked it up. I searched my tunnels and caves for hours and hours, searching for a single dark spot. I combed the ruins, never really completing my work, always jumping at shadows. And whenever I thought I was safe... a real monster comes and mucks up everything I've been doing.

I didn't think a game could make you paranoid, but I don't play with the sound on anymore.