Autographs, celebrity status, and massive piles of cash: not the first three things one generally thinks of when they imagine a game designer. Unless, of course, you’re referring to Markus “Notch” Persson, and his team at Mojang–the nostalgia-ridden designers who came up with the wildly successful cubefest that is Minecraft. Insightful and well-researched, Thomas Arnroth has put together a terrific look at Mojang with his book A Year With Minecraft: Behind The Scenes At Mojang.
Though my personal experience with Minecraft has been preliminary at best, I’ve always recognized it as a gamechanger. Indeed, how could you not? Minecraft is a video game that gives me hope for future games. More so than any other highly successful game, it encourages thought and creativity among its players. There are no quests, and no set storyline. Instead, it opts to be the world’s largest box of Legos. This is made all the more remarkable when you consider how popular it is among younger gamers, all of whom take an active role the evolution of Minecraft on the whole.
“It’s not so much Minecraft that runs the community,” says a fan. “But the community that runs Minecraft.”
This opinion is supported wholeheartedly by “Notch”, whose controversial support of pirating his creation has done absolutely nothing to slow the speedy upward climb that Minecraft continues to see. And Arnroth’s narrative of this little studio in Stockholm conveys both its successes and its difficulties in every way possible: from marriage proposals to a battle with Bethesda Studios over the word “scroll”.
Arnroth doesn’t just detail archived nerd history, however. His book even allows a glimpse into the thought processes that create the world’s favorite cube-based game since Tetris. What are the best ways to convert Minecraft from PC to console? How is it that people seem to love the Minecraft mobile app, despite even the designers second guessing its creation? Can a developer that’s sold over 20 million units really refer to itself as “indie”? Arnroth provides a lot of insight into Mojang and their wonderful toys.
Great reading for both the expert and the newcomer alike, A Year With Minecraft is a love letter to Mojang, whether it means to be or not. From their innovation to their generosity, its impressive enough that they’ve beaten the odds thus far. Clearly Thomas Arnroth is looking forward to seeing what their next step will be. His book makes the rest of us feel the same way.
A Year With Minecraft: Behind The Scenes At Mojang was written by Thomas Arnroth and was released February 4th, 2014. It is available in paperback at Amazon.