First, you need to decide between Creative Mode and Survival Mode. In Creative Mode, you are like a god, the lord and master of all you see, with an infinite number of items and resources at your disposal. Creative Mode is only available for tenured professors. Everybody else has to play in Survival Mode. You will also need to choose a difficulty level. Your options are Peaceful, Easy, Normal, Hard, and Adjunct Professor. Let’s select that last one and see what happens.
Your Character Spawns
Your character could spawn in any biome, but since you selected Adjunct Professor Mode, there is a 90 percent chance you will appear in the bathroom of a Subway restaurant where you are grading essays using a malfunctioning hand dryer as a desk and trying to answer panicky student emails on a nine-year-old iPhone. If you chose to begin with a Bonus Chest, it should be in one of the adjacent bathroom stalls. Look inside to find useful items that will help you on your quest, including more essays to grade, half a meatball sub, and a PhD in the History of Consciousness from UC Santa Cruz.
Building a Shelter
You can build your shelter out of almost any material, but choose something cozy since you’ll be sharing your shelter/house/office/classroom/occasional Airbnb with every other adjunct professor playing in your realm. A well-built shelter will keep the elements and most hostile mobs at bay, but letters from student loan collection agencies will always find you. Don’t bother crafting windows for your shelter, since it must be located underground next to a lava pool, a bottomless chasm, and several broken photocopiers.
Searching for Resources
Start by gathering valuable natural resources such as wood, cobblestone, and coal, all of which can be bartered with villagers for the Chobani yogurt cups that will constitute 90 percent of your diet (the other 10 percent comes from the meatball sub you found in the Subway bathroom, so eat it sparingly). You should also gather sticks and wool to craft the futon that will be your bed, office, and occasional sexual partner. If you encounter gold, diamonds, or anything else even remotely valuable, immediately select SAVE AND QUIT and invest your newfound wealth into minting NFTs of your negative Rate My Professor evaluations.
Combine four wooden planks to create a crafting table. You can use this helpful item to craft pretty much anything, including powerful weapons, armor, and tools. Unfortunately, you can also use it as a desk, and since you have two hundred essays on gender identity in Jane Eyre to grade before tomorrow morning, you’d better get started. The good news is that you don’t need to sleep in Minecraft, so this can be just like one of your real-life workdays. Only stop working if you need to barter for more Chobanis, if a zombie starts trying to eat you, or—worst of all—if a zombie tries to close SpeedGrader before you can save all the comments on those essays.
Encountering Hostile Mobs
Zombies, spiders, and creepers will all try to kill you, but the most dangerous hostile mob you will encounter is the dreaded “hiring committee,” who will not only kill you but also demand that you give them a CV, a cover letter, academic transcripts from undergrad, grad school, and kindergarten, seven letters of reference, a twelve-year research plan, and three thousand dollars (or the equivalent in Chobani yogurt cups) to pay your own way to an on-campus interview.
Fighting the Ender Dragon
To reach the end of the game, you will need to fight the most terrifying, powerful, and remorseless enemy you can imagine. His name is Thad Peterson, and he was granted tenure in 1978 with one conference paper and zero publications on his CV. Despite getting his first tenure-track job because his supervisor was a drinking buddy of the department chair, he now expects all job applicants to have three books (with a fourth under contract) by the time they finish graduate school. He has published one book in forty-five years and made $325,000 last year. Conventional weapons (like peer review) cannot harm him, so your only hope is to say good things about him and pray that he gets offered a job as a university president in another state.
Playing Minecraft on Adjunct Professor Mode means you will need to start a new game from scratch every eight to twelve weeks. Your progress will not be saved, because according to the university’s HR department, it does not exist. You might want to consider playing a game that simulates a safer and more stable career, such as auto thief, soldier of fortune, or assassin. However, given the large number of new adjunct professors joining the game each year, the smartest move might be selling your gaming system and funneling the profits into Chobani yogurt stock.