Minecraft: a crash guide to Mojang's world-beating game


Microsoft has announced its buyout of Minecraft developer Mojang for $2.5bn.

It is thought the founders of the Swedish developer felt the pressure of running a company which generated $326m last year.

The founders, Markus Persson, Carl Manneh and Jakob Porser, are all leaving the company - presumably with a fruitful pay off - and Microsoft has sought to reassure fans that the huge community built around the game will continue.

“Minecraft is more than a great game franchise – it is an open-world platform, driven by a vibrant community we care deeply about, and rich with new opportunities for that community and for Microsoft,” said Microsoft’s chief executive, Satya Nadella.

But what exactly is Minecraft? And why does it have such a vast community of ardent fans? Here’s how the Guardian has covered the game in the past.

Minecraft review

Read Simon Parkin’s original Minecraft review for PC and Mac back in December 2011.

The world is uniquely yours. All players share the 1x1 blocks that comprise its mountains, valleys, lakes and clouds, but their arrangement is randomly assigned to you alone. Day one and your goal is mere exploration, charting the terrain around you, a carefree sort of cartography as you feel out the contours of your domain, marvel at the scenery and build a mind map of natural landmarks to set your bearings by.

Then night falls and monsters rise; dead-eyed zombies, skeletons and camouflaged creepers, whose kindergarten path-finding AI has them pursue you with night-terror single-mindedness.”

A screengrab from Minecraft. Photograph: Minecraft

Minecraft: Here’s one I made earlier

The Observer’s Tom Lamont delves into the Minecraft community, and asks them what all the fuss is about…

A Scottish sixth-former made a stunning replica of the Winter Palace in St Petersburg. Chinese history enthusiasts laboured to reconstruct Beijing exactly as it had appeared in 1751. I visited, exploring this Qing-dynasty city via monorail, and learned that construction was due for completion in “July 2023”. Was it wise, I wondered, while riding a pretty route from the Gate of Divine Might to the Palace of Heavenly Purity, to plan to invest so much time?

Adam had surrendered months to Minecraft. “Picture my parents,” he said. “In their 60s, lovely people … They don’t understand at all what I do with my leisure time. It’s a hard thing to show people. ‘Hey! Come over and look at this giant virtual thing I built!’ For some people, that abstraction never makes sense. It’s just numbers.”

How Minecraft has bewitched 40 million of us

John Naughton explores why two Minecraft manuals are among the top 20 books sold so far in 2014.

The only people in your household who will be astonished that two computer game manuals are selling like hot cakes are the adults. This is because they don’t know what every child from the age of six upwards knows, namely that Minecraft is the most absorbing and intriguing gaming idea since David Braben and Ian Bell created Elite in 1984.

What’s even more astonishing (for adults anyway) is that Minecraft has none of the CGI faux-realism of the blockbuster computer games marketed by Electronic Arts et al. Players are not compelled to act out the crazed, violent, misogynistic scripts dreamed up for them by programmers working for multimedia conglomerates. In Minecraft, there’s no realism and no script.”

Minecraft at 33 million users – a personal story

Keith Stuart writes about his son Zac’s connection with Minecraft. Zac was diagnosed on the autistic spectrum.

Like a lot of children with an autism spectrum condition, he loves Minecraft. From the moment I downloaded the Xbox 360 edition and handed controllers to him and his brother Albie, they have been addicts. At first, they simply trudged across the rolling landscapes, randomly attacking the sheep, cows and ducks that graze each Minecraft world. They would throw together weird hovels, filled with random doors and windows, huge gaps in the walls, bizarre jutting extensions, like nightmarish sets from a German expressionistic horror movie.

Now, they construct immense palaces and giant inhabitable robots – usually made out of gold and glass. They are the Liberaces of virtual architecture. They explore the game’s growing systems; they avidly download all the regular updates which add new features, new creatures, new narrative possibilities – they devour them all.”

Markus Persson is the man behind the Mojang AB. Photograph: EMMA JOHANSSON / DN / SCANPIX/Press Association Images

How a game with no rules changed the rules of games forever

Tracy McVeigh on Minecraft’s rapid rise to popularity.

Minecraft is not just a global sales phenomenon: it is being hailed as a turning point in technology, a Cinderella story for the internet age. There are 4.5m YouTube hits about a game that had no marketing budget.

Academics study it, and this weekend there was a bidding war over the UK rights to a book detailing Persson’s own life and his development of the game from the summer of 2009 to its appearance in its current form in 2011. The same year Mojang hosted a conference in Las Vegas called Minecon, attended by 4,500 people from 23 countries. It is now to become an annual event.

What’s the best type of machine for playing Minecraft?

Jack Schofield takes you through platform options.

Almost any mainstream device – tablet, games console, laptop or PC – will run Minecraft, bearing in mind that only PCs run the full version. Almost any current PC (Windows, Linux or Mac) should be able to run Minecraft at the lower settings. However, running the full version with textures, smooth lighting, clouds etc and a high level of resolution at a high frame rate can challenge even expensive PCs. It all comes down to finding the best compromise between performance and price.

My general advice is to buy something with a graphics card rather than “integrated graphics” (where the graphics chip is included with the processor). The graphics card seems to be the single most important factor in Minecraft performance. Also, aim for a PC with a 64-bit operating system and 4GB or more memory, and make sure you install the 64-bit version of Oracle’s Java. (Minecraft is a Java program.)

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Fans play video games on Xbox One consoles in New York. Photograph: LUCAS JACKSON/REUTERS

Me, my son and Minecraft

Writer Jane Costello gets to grips with her son’s obsession with Minecraft – by having a go herself.

Familiarising yourself takes a little time but once you get going – and have worked out the controls – being able to run, fly, swim and build is undeniably absorbing. I also finally manage to construct something, a slightly disappointing shipping container-type affair that explodes Wiltshire’s assertion that it’s “virtually impossible to build something that looks terrible in Minecraft”. Still, I’m enjoying it, I can’t deny it. Aged eight, I’d have loved it every bit as much as my son does.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Hannah Jane Parkinson, for theguardian.com on Monday 15th September 2014 16.46 Europe/London

Jane Costello at home with her son, Otis, playing Minecraft. Photograph: Christopher Thomond/Christopher Thomond

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010


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