Surviving the Ark Sandbox

I have found a new obsession. It’s a video game called Ark: Survival Evolved, and it’s basically Minecraft for grown-ups.

Ummm…..why are you giving me that blank stare? You don’t know what Minecraft is either?

Ok. Let me elaborate….

Ark: Survival Evolved is the most awesome online, multiplayer, sandbox game ever! It’s one of the first games Jeff and I played together, and that’s not even why it’s so awesome!

But before I start gushing about all the reasons Ark is so much fun, I should probably give you some idea of what this game is all about.

See, video games are categorized into several different genres such as action, adventure, sports, and role-playing games (just to name a few) with each genre being further divided into sub-genres. Ark (and by extension, the afore mentioned, Minecraft) is a role-playing, sandbox game.

A role-playing game (RPG) is basically what it sounds like. You play the role of a character in the game, battling monsters and exploring the game world. Most of these types of video games draw their gameplay style from traditional role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons with the character you play often having similar attributes and abilities as characters in D&D.

Sandbox games are a sub-genre of role-playing games, so they often have the same mechanics or feel as more structured RPGs. You play a character inside the game world, but they differ in that there is no set story-line, or the story-line is very relaxed. Basically, in a sandbox game, you get to do whatever you want, build things, fight things, collect things, and in the case of an online game, interact with other players.

When you enter the world of Ark: Survival Evlolved for the first time, your character wakes up on a tropical looking beach. You have no clothes (ok, you do have underwear…you’re not completely nude), no food, and no tools. So your immediate task is to remedy this before you freeze or starve to death because this beach may look tropical, but the weather is anything but.

At first you scrounge around picking up rocks, gathering berries, and punching trees. Yes…I said punching trees! Punching is the only way you can get thatch and wood to make your first tool, a pickax.

Once you have the pickax, things get a little better because you can collect resources faster and make a fire, but by this point, you have probably noticed one other unusual thing about this beach. There are dinosaurs everywhere!


Hopefully your initial encounter with dinosaurs consists of just watching a few herbivores mill peacefully around, but more often than not, your first lesson in dinosaur/human co-habitation involves a gruesome death in the jaws of a ravenous carnivore when it kills you and sends you back to the stone ages. Ok…..a terrible cliche….but it was just begging to be said….especially because after you die in this game, your character respawns in a random location back at square one….no clothes, no tools, no food. The only advantage you have when you respawn is that you keep your experience level and engrams (or abilities) you have learned, and if you’re really lucky, you can even find your corpse and retrieve all your stuff.

So now you’re probably thinking, “Wow! That sounds frustrating and awful,” and you’d be right. There is a learning curve to this game, and that’s probably why it took me until this second go round (Jeff and I recently restarted playing this game a few months ago) to really fall in love with it. The first few sessions are spent literally just trying to survive, but it does get better. Once you master a few skills like hunting, building, crafting, and farming, the game improves drastically, and from there, the sky is the limit! Yes….I used another cliche….but I had too!….because (and here is the best part)… this game you can tame, ride, and fly on dinosaurs!

Ok…once is not enough…I have to say it again……You can tame dinosaurs!!!!!

In the world of Ark, dinosaurs are your ultimate helper and guardian. Not only can you ride them, but they help you hunt, gather, and carry things, as well as protect you, your friends, and your stuff. Dinosaurs are awesome!

And did I mention, they are kind of cute, too.


Ok, I think dinosaur fun is the best place to stop, and I’m pretty sure I have covered the basics of what Ark is like. There are still a few mechanics of the game I need to explain, but I think I can hide those in the stories I am going tell in my next few blogs.

I hope you come back and live the Ark life with me.


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I am a mom, widow, artist, dog groomer who loves hairless dogs, blogger, and aspiring author. My husband of 14 years died on May 6, 2015 after a two and a half year battle with glioblastoma. I am now raising our two sons and trying to find my way.

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