How Minecraft took over the world

By Kyle Knappett

Minecraft has over 40 million players worldwide. 13 million have bought the game for PC and Mac and more than 6 million people have it for the Xbox 360. With its recent release on PlayStation 3 it’s set to become even bigger. The world has become obsessed with a game that allows players to use their imagination in any way they like.

This isn’t bad for its creator Markus ‘Notch’ Persson who single handedly created and developed the game in its early stages. The Swedish developer first got the idea for Minecraft from his memories of playing with Lego when he was young and from the game Dwarf Fortress. Dwarf fortress is game where the player controls a group of dwarves that have to create a fortress from the materials they gather from the world. As well as this, protecting the fortress from any monsters that show up in the night, by combining these two ideas Minecraft was born.

Minecraft has been a runaway success which has not only made Markus ‘ Notch’ Persson millions of dollars but also a major celebrity in the gaming community. He consistently attends conventions and even created his own called Minecon that takes place in a different place every year. In an interview with PCGamer back in 2010 Notch was asked about when he first realised that Minecraft could become his day job he responded by saying “Just a couple of months after opening up alpha sales, I realized that people really liked the game, and that it really had potential to become something big” He then went on to say “It took me another six months to finally dare taking the leap and going proper full time. I gave three months notice, and by the time I left, it already was quite obvious I had made the right decision, with Minecraft sales steadily climbing up.

The game has caused a revolution in the gaming community a Minecraft has become the definitive indie game and has paved the way for others to follow suit. Minecraft championed the auteurist approach to game design as its simple pixelated graphics have become iconic and easily recognisable to everyone.  The main appeal of Minecraft is that its possibilities are limitless. Anything can be created you just have to imagine it. There have already been recreations of famous landmarks for example the Eiffel tower, Big Ben, the empire state building, etc; even whole new ideas like alien planets, spaceships, and even the enterprise from star trek. The possibilities are endless and that is what has made people fall in love with it the game and made it the massive success it is now.

One avenue of Minecraft’s success is it wide range of applications. Minecraft is not only a game that exists in the gaming community it has reached much further than that. It is played by people from all kinds of backgrounds and ways of life. Minecraft imagePeople around the world play together creating amazing things and share ideas about what to do next. What Minecraft can do socially is amazing, it can join together anyone whether the person playing is 4 years old or 85 years old; whether they are playing in India or in the U.K. they are joined by a common desire to create. Minecraft is used as a teaching tool in classrooms, there is the block by block project that use Minecraft to show how they are going to redevelop a community inAfrica and let the residents see and change the plans to how they want them.  Minecraft has permeated society in all kinds of ways and shows just how much games have matured in recent years.

Players have said that some of their favourite features is that the game gives the player the “freedom to create and build whatever you like” as well as this the games constant new appeal through mods “Mods improve on what is already there in minecraft, they open up entirely new opportunities“. Mods are created by the players of minecraft, they are used to add all kinds of things to the basic minecraft experience and ensure that theree is always somethign new you can do with the game. This give the game an incredible amount of longevity and are one of the reasons that minecraft has done so well.

One point that is commonly overlooked in the story of Minecraft’s success is the enormous contribution that youtubers have put in. I don’t thinkMinecraft would be anywhere near as successful as it is now if there weren’t the legions upon legions of people that took footage of them playing the game and then uploaded it to youtube. Youtubers like the Yogscast, Captain Sparkles, Antvenom, etc all had a massive part in showing people that Minecraft existed. One problem that indie games face is exposure, how to get your game noticed against the millions of others that are released; Youtube was integral to Minecraft’s success as it got it noticed

Development of Minecraft has now been handed over to a colleague at mojang to allow Notch to develop his follow up game. In a blog post from 2011 Notch said this about handing over development “As of yesterday, Jens Bergensten is the new lead developer on Minecraft”. He went on to say that Jens is a “truly a great person to work with, and I feel very confident handing over the leadership of Minecraft to him”

Notch is heralded as a genius game developer and is now facing the pressure from ‘second album syndrome’ where he is expected to release a new game that is just as good or even better than Minecraft.

Minecraft is amazing, there is no other way of putting it, in the next few years it is only going to grow bigger and bigger. It is such a great tool that can be used in any number of ways and its potential is limitless. Today it is strange to imagine how someone couldn’t know about Minecraft as its everywhere it has truly penetrated popular culture and become a phenomenon in its own right. Minecraft has changed a lot about the gaming industry, the perception of gaming, and opened up a range of possibilities for the future.

Links

block by block project

Mojang website

PCGamer Interview

Notch’s Blog

 

Sub edited by: Alex Marnelakis

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