There is a place in gaming where no one has trodden. It's so far off the beaten path that it would take a lifetime's worth of gaming and a heck of a lot of patience to get there. If it were plotted on the far reaches of a map, it would undoubtedly be marked with a cautionary 'Here there be monsters,' but no one's bothered to get close enough to mark it.
It's the Far Lands of Minecraft, the edge of the game's map, and Kurt J. Mac wants to see it. So, nearly three years ago, in March 2011, he loaded up a new game, chose a direction and started walking.
Over 700 virtual kilometers (roughly 435 miles) later, he's not even halfway there. Not by a long shot. In fact, his in-game equivalent of a GPS estimates that, at his current pace, he'll reach the Far Lands in about 22 years. Let that sink in for a moment.
Some of you may be scratching your head and wondering why this is impressive (or at least interesting), so let's rewind: Available across a variety of platforms, Minecraft features a world that is made up of square blocks of various materials which can be broken down and built into amazingly detailed structures through farming and mining. Each game generates a brand new world populated with a unique configuration of trees, plains and mountains, making it ideal for exploring.
The world continues to automatically generate as the player moves further away from its center. The farther out you go, the bigger the world gets. If you walk long enough, eventually you'll reach what Minecraft creator Markus Persson has called the "Far Lands," an area so far from the center of the world that the game can no longer support the size of the world. This is where the Minecraft universe starts to morph into something illogical and unrecognizable.
Persson says in a blog post written while developing the game that "infinite worlds," such as the one in Minecraft, are not really infinite, "but there’s no hard limit either. It’ll just get buggier and buggier the further out you are."
It's into this buggy, unknown that Mac is headed.
According to the New Yorker, the YouTube channel Mac set up to chronicle his journey -- Far Lands or Bust! -- has more than 300,000 subscribers and earns enough advertising revenue that he was able to quit his job as a Web designer. He's even helped raise more than $250,000 for Child's Play, a charity hoping to improve the lives of sick children by giving them toys and games to play with while hospitalized. Not bad for someone who just walks around in a virtual world all day!
On his journey, Mac is armed with the bare necessities (a sword and a pickaxe) and is accompanied by his trusted companion (Wolfie, a tamed wolf he found in Season 1 of his Youtube series) and thousands of YouTube followers. He narrates each episode of his series as he traverses unsettled, uninhabited stretches of vast, cubed terrain.
“The series transformed into a sort of podcast, where the topics I talk about might have little to do with the journey itself,” Mac said in an interview with the New Yorker. “Of course, it is always exciting when Minecraft re-grabs my attention with a perilous cliff, a zombie attack, or a memorable landscape, and I remember the journey I’m on.”
Like most explorers, Mac recognizes that it's the journey and not the destination that's important. He often pauses to admire the uncharted world around him that he and his followers are the first and last to see.
WATCH: The latest episode of Mac's Far Lands or Bust!
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post incorrectly said Mac met Wolfie in Season 3. He actually tamed Wolfie in Season 1.