The Lessons of Minecraft

Minecraft is a game that makes industry heads spin. Its developer is on the way to becoming a superstar, it’s generating huge sales for an indie game, and yet it's the nerdiest game that has been seen for years. Many insiders have quietly concluded that the game is just lucky-- a non-repeating event, a freak of nature.

Minecraft and the Question of Luck by Tadhg Kelly, author of the forthcoming book What Games Are.

  1. I liked the first… third of the article, where he traces all the things that make minecraft such a wonderful aberration. The second two thirds, when he starts talking about the importance of “aligning with your tribe,” comes off like something I’d hear in a marketing department board room, and so I couldn’t keep reading.

  2. The lesson to take away from Minecraft is not “we should all be making low-fi sandbox games.” The lesson is that marketing stories and resonance are increasingly important because the Internet is built to spread them.

    I have no idea what he’s talking about.

  3. I think he’s talking about Gordon Freeman and the resonance cascade.

  4. Minecraft succeeded because it tapped into something modern games have trouble doing in an easy fashion. Spore tried to do the same, but it spread itself too thin by being overly ambitious. And I hear the marketing department kind of dumbed elements of Spore down to be more user accessible to kids and inexperienced gamers.

    Basically, Minecraft made user creation a part of the central gameplay, which appeals to Artisan gamers, who like making things. Most modern games try to instead sell a fairly guided experience, while Minecraft just says “Here’s some blocks, use them to survive and build something cool in any fashion you’d like.”

    And I think the way the game’s designed helped, too. Having users play the game from the beginning as the game evolved helped build hype for new elements and I think really helped Notch intelligently decide what to add or change in the game. Closed development has playtesting, but not crowdsourcing of this level.

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