I would be remiss if I didn’t admit that I have not, as of this writing, jumped on board the Minecraft bandwagon. It’s not that I’m some kind of elitist gamer who demands people behold my gamer score; nothing like that. In truth, I hadn’t really heard of Minecraft before last month.
Before the ardent fans of the Little Game That Could crucify me, let me explain the situation: I don’t get to play games much anymore. Between dodging bill collectors and looking for work, well, my time is pretty sparse. Until recently my link to the video game world had been severed for the sake of other things.
Some time has passed since I first heard about Minecraft, and I have to admit that I am no closer to understanding the game’s popularity than I was before I knew it existed. It’s like my mind doesn’t register that there even is such a thing. I seem to be one of the few, as my daily conversations have a habit of including someone gushing over Minecraft. It has essentially turned my friends into crack heads, and I wouldn’t be surprised if, like World of Warcraft, it’s on its way to breaking up a few families.
Of course Mommy loves you, but Minecraft is introducing a Sky Dimension. Besides, they’ll actually feed you at the orphanage.
For any one who is in my shoes, here’s what this particular outsider has learned about Minecraft. Let’s look at the facts:
- Minecraft is basically cheap, selling at €19.95.
- The point of the game is to take apart pieces of the world, and to build things while pretending there is a point to the game.
- More than 4 million copies have been sold, based mostly on word of mouth alone.
Now, taken one at a time, these facts may not sound all that startling. Video games sell like hot cakes, and they’re so advanced these days. So, what does €19.95 buy you?
Never, since the Atari, have games looked this realistic.
Yeah. That’s Minecraft. €19.95 gets you a game in which you run around fighting enemies and building monuments to your wasted time, and it all transpires within a world that looks like Danny Devito’s dirty socks. Despite having three modes of play (Classic, Survivor, and Creator – all with their own unique list of nothing to do), the game basically exists simply for the sake of doing so.
The basic concept of the game is to remove blocks from the terrain and build things, but there isn’t really a “why” behind this. Even if an enemy is chasing you, you could probably build a small shelter out of five blocks and just hide until the morning. But that isn’t a big concern, as fans assure me that there’s way more to the game than building and frolicking on your stubby block feet.
“I’ve also been told that people read Playboy for the articles, but only in between games of Speed Chess.”
Really, none of this would baffle or bother me if it weren’t for the fact that Markus Persson, the game’s creator, didn’t become an overnight millionaire by selling the game on line. Persson has made an estimated $50+ million off of a product with as much play value as a bag of walnuts. That’s like becoming independently wealthy by publishing a book about the time you had to wait in line at the ATM.
Still, the game is extremely popular, and it’s beginning to hit more devices with each passing day. There’s something I don’t get about the game, obviously, but I can’t deny its success. Perhaps the fact that its ostensibly simplistic looking nature and concept (which in turn can lead a user to do pretty much… anything they want) has garnered it such success is a feat in itself; hearkening to a Miyamoto-esque tenet that holds gratifying gameplay above anything else. It simply baffles me how this found such a following, but maybe it’s just something I have to play more in order to understand. And so I shall.
Honestly, there’s a lot I don’t understand about my generation.