How has Minecraft Changed Online Gaming?

MinecraftThe online gaming sensation Minecraft stunned the video game industry by selling millions of copies overnight and turning creator Markus Persson into a legend. It’s one of those stories about an original, creative outsider unintentionally upsetting a billion dollar industry, and there’s no question that it’s changed the way millions of people think about video games. The game is unique in that there are no rules, no story and no objective, and it’s this open world of possibilities that has attracted fans by the millions.

Fan Reactions

Soon after it was released, a convention called Minecon was created to give fans a chance to discuss the game and delve deeper into its meaning, in much the same way fans have celebrated Star Trek, and science fiction in general, at fan conventions. It’s perhaps too early to tell, but judging by the reaction gamers have had to exploring the blocky, Lego-like world Persson created, the game could become the cultural touchstone that Star Trek has become. After only six years, it’s made Persson a multi-millionaire and earned him the affectionate nickname “Notch.” A quick search on YouTube returns about 45 million results for fan-made videos and gameplay demonstrations of the game, and a search for the word “Notch” on Urban Dictionary returns a definition comparing Persson to Jesus as the top result.

At a time when video games are getting more violent, more realistic and more expensive to make, it’s remarkable that a simple game made entirely by one man working in his bedroom has earned more profit than most games created by major studios. Minecraft is what’s known as a sandbox game because it allows players to build their own creations as if they’re using a shovel in a sandbox. Every player starts out with a blank canvas and has to build all the components of the game, from tools and weapons to houses and stores. It gets much more complicated when other players get involved, and a group of strangers playing on the same server gives the game a completely different experience than it has as a one-player game.

Impact on the Industry

Online gaming has been around for as long as Internet connections have been fast enough to update 24 frames of video per second, and over the years, they’ve evolved from competitive, destructive games to more cooperative, constructive games. Despite the multi-million dollar marketing budgets of the big studios and the amount of research they do before making a game, they never seem to anticipate these kinds of changes. All their research points to violent games, and most industry insiders admit that they would never have accepted Persson’s idea for a video game if he’d pitched it to them.

Gamers still love to play destructive games like Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty, but Markus Persson tapped into a new, creative style of gaming that offers infinite possibilities still to be explored. When studios like Electronic Arts and Rock Star Games put their money into new ideas for creative games, there will be teams of hundreds of industry artists and developers creating life-like virtual worlds to be explored.

Advances in computer technology are making video games more sophisticated and entertaining every year. Indie games like Minecraft shape the world of online gaming by offering players a refreshing change from the usual violent, constrictive gameplay of studio blockbusters.