Some games take off much more than others and there are many different reasons for this. Some games have an amazing story-line that gets carried through a series, often backed up by novels or comics. The Mass Effect and Halo games are great examples of plot-lines that people really invest in. Other games maybe visually incredible like Deus Ex Human Revolution, which also had a great example of fighting mechanics. But one game has none of these and still sells millions: Minecraft.
Minecraft, for those of you living under a cobblestone block, is a sandbox game created by Mojang, that allows you to build anything you wish from various resources in the world. There are monsters that attack you, mostly at night, and hidden dungeons and caves to explore. In a nutshell it’s digital LEGO that goes bump in the night. A simple premise that has exploded into a phenomenon.
Originally a PC game, Minecraft has now sold over 17.5 million copies across its various platforms and more than 453,000 of these were on Christmas Day alone. In May 2012 Minecraft became available on Xbox 360 and it not only sold over 400,000 copies in the first 24hrs, but was making profit after just an hour of sales.
But with no plot, and basic graphics and mechanics, what is it that keeps people flocking to Minecraft? As someone heavily entrenched in the world of Minecraft I thought I would know, but it’s hard to pin down. So, I threw the question out there to my Minecraft Community and got back some interesting answers to do with possibilities and a sense of achievement. Is Minecraft offering people a new form of self expression? Is this the key to it all? There is most definitely a proud moment of achievement when you finish a large building or piece of pixel art, particularly when you have had to find all the materials in survival mode. If you are on a public server you might then ask people to come and look at it and give their opinions. They may even have helped you to build it too.
Community has always been at the heart of this game, through the beta stages of development right up to the present day. If you want to learn how to play Minecraft, you can sit and work it out alone, or you could ask someone for help. Word of mouth and the internet have been an integral part of the growth and popularity of the game and has created many other offshoots. People, including myself, create Minecraft series on YouTube, others create huge maps to play or mods to add or change certain elements. Some of these people earn their living from Minecraft, but aren’t working for Mojang. Tekkit was created from several such mods and is now almost a game in itself. There are even people who don’t own Minecraft but still watch the YouTube videos and know all about the game.
Minecraft is different from most, if not all games, in the way that it has become such an entity. The game has created so much more from itself almost becoming a sub-culture or community in its own right. It has even entered the world of competitive gaming with events such as Multiplay’s Insomnia Gaming Festival holding various competition alongside the usual FPS or RTS games.
If you’ve never entered the blocky world of Minecraft, maybe you should give it a go. Have a look around YouTube at the various videos of buildings and worlds you can create and the way the communities all band together. Or you could just go for it. Download a copy today… go on!
Block on, my friends!