Mining into your heart
You've maybe heard of Minecraft, the building/exploration game that's hijacked our livestreams, hypnotized our children, and generally dominated the world over the last five years. It's hard to believe that what started out as the creation of a lone Swedish developer has gone on to such stratospheric heights of success - or at least it would be, if it wasn't the secret dream of anybody who's ever installed a copy of GameMaker or cracked their knuckles over a Java compiler.
But even once you get past the fact that Minecraft has inspired a seemingly endless supply of ports, merchandise, and even an adventure series from Telltale Games, there's still so much more to be astonished by. That's where this week's Top 7 comes in. If you need a new appreciation for pixelated cubes, look no further. Ok, a little further. You still have to click to the next slide.
7. It has all of Denmark
If you pay much attention to the internet (well you're here, aren't you?) you've probably gotten a bit jaded by the idea of stuff being recreated in Minecraft. The USS Enterprise? Yawn. The saucer section probably doesn't even detach. Game of Thrones' King's Landing? Wake me up when you do a perfectly scaled recreation of all Westeros. Granted, the latter would require some interpretation, since not even George R.R. Martin knows exactly what exists at every single point of his fictional realm. But Denmark? Denmark is defined. People know what's going on with Denmark.
That's why the Danish Geodata Agency was able to do a complete a 1:1 scale recreation of the entire country. Four-thousand billion bricks compose the country's roughly 40,000 square kilometers of Nordic tracts, complete with buildings erected across major metropolitan areas. Note that the map takes up 1 terabyte of data, and Denmark proper is the 133rd largest country in the world by surface area. Just imagine how big of a hard drive you'd need for Greenland.
6. It was heavily inspired by Infiniminer
Do a quick search on Xbox Live Indie Games (or the App Store, or Steam Greenlight) for the word 'craft' and let me know when you get to the end. It's damn near infinite, right? Even if we're generous and say half those games are using it in the 'WarCraft' sense, that's still half of infinity Minecraft clones. To be fair, the game is the perfect storm for copycats: lo-fi visuals and randomly generated content make Minecraft derivatives much easier to pull off than, say, a Call of Duty clone.
But Minecraft itself probably wouldn't exist without Infiniminer, a multiplayer PC game about digging up materials and building cool stuff with them. Creator Markus 'Notch' Persson has always been upfront about Infiniminer planting the seed for Minecraft in his behatted noggin. Of course, he, and eventually the team at Mojang, took the concept quite a bit further in just about every direction (literally, since Infiniminer's maps are tiny compared to Minecraft's potentially infinite worlds).
5. It has more than 350 splash messages
You know those weird little messages that start throbbing on the title screen as soon as you load up Minecraft? They're called splash text, and they range from pop culture gags to near-inscrutable gaming references. Seems pretty innocuous, but like any good inside joke, it quickly got out of hand: the game included more than 100 of these bobbing yellow messages at launch and it has more than 350 today. Whichever one shows up is completely random, so you know you've been playing too much Minecraft once you stop seeing new ones.
Here are a few of my personal favorites:
"Any computer is a laptop if you're brave enough!", which may be legally prosecutable.
"Treatment for your rash!", which I am so thankful for.
"Totally forgot about Dre!", which, I'm ashamed to admit, I did as well.
"Stop being reasonable, this is the Internet!", which is an unreasonable response.
"Run, coward! I hunger!", which is a rather sinister thing to say.
"Follow the train, CJ!", which is why I was not too upset about how things ended up with Big Smoke.
4. It's the most-played Xbox Live game
When you think of super popular Xbox Live games, you probably think of Halo and Call of Duty and stuff like that, right? Fair enough - shooters are definitely a big part of the online experience. But they're not the top dogs. Normally I'd drag the question of what actually is the top dog on for a bit longer, but it's either Minecraft or I've accidentally put this slide in the wrong article.
Yep, Minecraft for Xbox 360 is the most-played game on Xbox Live, with users collectively pouring 2 billion hours of their lives into the game over its two years on the platform - or nearly 230,000 years altogether. Fun fact: if you were to go 230,000 years into the past you could meet the Neanderthals of the Bontnewydd Palaeolithic site in Wales, and they would probably think you were weird when the first thing you did after introducing yourself was start punching a tree.
3. It's sold so many frickin' copies
Sorry, sorry, sales figures are boring. But let's just rap for a minute, here: so many frickin' people have bought Minecraft. You want to know how many? I'll tell you in a second. First I'll tell you that 30 million people have bought the Pocket Edition alone. Thirty million! That's enough to give six in every seven Canadians a copy of the game (the seventh one probably prefers Terraria), or a million for every agreeing Helen. Meanwhile, the OG PC version is going strong with 18.2 million copies sold.
But if Minecraft Xbox 360 Edition is so popular on Xbox Live it has to have sold pretty well, too, right? Yup - more than 17 million, according to Microsoft. That all adds up to more than 60 million copies, which if you divide by five for no particular reason, is still a frickin' lot of sales, and we haven't even begun to account for the PlayStation versions. To be frank, I wouldn't expect the PlayStation versions to be trumpeted too hard in the future, considering this next fact...
2. Microsoft bought it for all the money...
You might already know this one, but I swear the refresher will be worth it when you click on to the next slide. Hey, wait! You still have to read this one first. OK. Microsoft bought Minecraft (and the studio that's responsible for its development, Mojang) for $2.5 billion. After that, Notch and studio co-founders Jakob Porser and Carl Manneh left Mojang because working is pointless when you already have all the money. Also, Notch said he'd never really wanted to be in charge of a worldwide phenomenon in the first place.
Poor guy. I could make a bunch of ridiculous comparisons to illustrate the wealth he reaped from selling this project he started in his free time, not to mention the cash he'd already acquired for heading up one of the biggest entertainment properties of the 2010s, but instead I'll draw your attention to one perfect example...
1. ...which helped Notch outbid Beyonce and Jay-Z on a Hollywood manor
... in which Notch - the quiet, portly, very pale Swede who helped make a niche fantasy MMO called Wurm Online - outbid Beyonce and Jay-Z - who are the closest thing the United States has to a royal family at the moment - on a palatial Hollywood manor. The final sum? Oh, just $70 million dollars. It's apparently the most anyone's ever spent on a Hollywood home, but it's still peanuts when you're rolling in Microsoft bucks. See, aren't you glad you read that last slide now?
In fact, the mini-castle may be a sound investment. When you have that much cash it's not wise to just leave it sitting around in a bank account. Granted, it will take some upkeep to keep the massive pool clean and the multiple bars well stocked and the candy room candy from getting all stuck together, but barring another housing market collapse he could do alright for himself. Meanwhile, I'll be over here trying to mine up enough Nether quartz to make a half-decent facsimile of its exterior.
Practice your craft
Also, did you know that each of the eight bathrooms in Notch's house has a $5,600 toilet? I bought Minecraft near the end of alpha, so in a way I'm financially responsible for about 1/373rd of one of Notch's commodes. How much of a Notch toilet do you account for? Let me know in the comments!
Want some more revelatory factoids? Check out 7 normal, everyday things that are impossible to explain to non-gamers or 13 hardcore challenges invented by players.