As we wrote back in 2019, which was a lifetime ago, Minecraft is one of the games that defined the 2010s.
We reached out to a group of content creators that have, at one time or another, made their living in Minecraft, to talk about the game’s history and rise to ubiquity.
Through Minecraft we saw the rise of early access and an unprecedented level of visibility for indie games.
“I don’t think that Notch went into the game with that sort of business strategy,” Jordan Maron, who streams as CaptainSparklez told me. “At that price, I guess I didn’t expect a great deal. And so as value for money, I don’t think there’s been anything in my life that I’ve ever paid nine dollars for that has had such a return.”
Minecraft was also the launchpad for the careers of online video creators like Maron, and like Simon Lane and Lewis Brindley of Yogscast. The game was created at a time when game streaming and Let’s Plays were just beginning to gain widespread attention, and it was one of the first games to feature built-in Twitch functionality.
“We came from World of Warcraft, a game that we played so much of [...] every day for three or four years by that point,” Brindley said. “We’d explored so much of it and we’d seen every single square of that game.” In the early days of Minecraft, it represented an unexplored frontier.
“The patch notes were vague at best, and you just had to discover what was there, and then you discovered like a new mineral or something,” Lane said. “And you just randomly put things together in the crafting grid and just try and see what you can make.”
Minecraft is also a platform, an outlet for user creativity. Even this week, as the world reacts to the novel coronavirus, Japanese schoolchildren are using Minecraft to hold a virtual graduation ceremony, and activists have used the game to make a library housing censored texts.
Daniel, who goes by RT on Twitch, regularly musters up hundreds of viewers to make large-scale build, like an island full of Starbucks cafes. And another creator we talked to, Matt Bonikowski, got his start recreating classic games like Pac-Man in Minecraft, and now makes games for Minecraft Marketplace.
Check out our video for more on the history of Minecraft from the above creators, and more!