Do you like reality TV? No? Oh okay that makes sense. Not saying that none of you do, but on average, I can reasonably assume
What about wrestling? Yeah! Yeah okay, probably, statistically, you do.
What about Minecraft? Yeah, okay, statistically, you also probably do!
The Life SMP is a Minecraft SMP (“Survival Multiplayer”) set up as in Hardcore mode, where you have a limited number of lives. You can die a total of 3 times and then that’s it, you’re out of the game. A bunch of professional Minecrafters get thrown into this space, with rules for each iteration and what you get is kind of a really good single season narrative you can see from multiple perspectives.
The storytelling this presents is really interesting to me — you’re basically getting a mix of reality TV, where players need resources to actually do things to affect the world and make things happen (including violence), but there’s also an element of shared fiction where people are creating things that one another needs to react to. There are grudges (real and exaggerated), there’s kayfabe (real and exaggerated), and unlike other long-form Minecraft content where there’s a sort of timeless vision, the Life setup is very clearly here for a good time, not for a long time.
There are three seasons of Life and it works well that each season gets better than the next. It’s some really good bingeable content for the holiday period – just put the playlist on the TV and let it run because it’ll have that effect where plot points may zip past, but the next video will show you that plot point in a different angle.
I think the first season, just called 3RD LIFE is the weakest, because all it has as a concept is each player has three lives totally; when you die you go from having a green life to a yellow life to a red life. Notably, red-life characters are hostile to everyone and can start PVPing other players. This holds out through the season – once someone goes red, they have the option to start fights and can pull the game into, y’know, a path of violence.
Last Life adds two new wrinkles. One, players start with a random number of lives from 2 to 6, which they can use as currency. You can give lives to people, but you know, there’s an inherent danger in that. This series has a lot of really clutch moments about giving people lives to disrupt plans and alliances, but also…
The other big twist this has is The Boogeyman, which means at the start of each session there’s a chance you will be selected as The Boogeyman, which means you have to kill someone non-red, or you will have your lives set to red. This means that there’s now a paranoia to the whole experience, where players may be allied and building together but also quietly wondering if the other player is going to take a shot at them as the end of the session arrives.
Last Life is exciting and it’s also funny in a really deep way that the first series kind of wasn’t. It’s not that the first series lacked for comedy, but Last Life has a bunch of genuinely hilarious moments that are also tied into big-brain plays from people doing clever moves.
The third and (maybe, when I write this) final (for now) Life series is Double Life. The gimmick here is no boogeyman but instead, codifying something that happens naturally in the game: Players get linked with another player and both of them share a life and health pool.
This series is pleasantly weird too, where the characters frame their soulmate link in a lot of… ways. Like, it’s kind of Life but Mean Girls, where everyone is trying to come up with some deliberately fruitless way of manipulating other players when everyone has a guaranteed ally.
It’s also the shortest of the seasons – it goes six sessions and you can binge one player’s perspective remarkably quickly, if you want to.
I recommend this as some solid ‘folk in the house, kid-friendly’ content that can be compared to a sporting event.