Opinion – Notch (Some Microsoft-Minecraft)

maxresdefaultThe headlines from every gaming news site today stated the following:

Microsoft buys Minecraft for 2.5 Billion dollars.

But every article underneath that headline complained about something different. Some were speculating what Microsoft was going to do with the IP, some were complaining how long before Microsoft crippled the EULA, and some even called Notch a coward for giving up his creation.

I’d like to clarify that I don’t know Notch personally, although I spoke with him on an interview once, we have not kept in touch since that original recording many moons ago. But, creative-type people typically don’t think the same way business-type people think. And this fact was ignored on every – single – damn – outlet – listed.

Not once did anyone say “Thank you Mojang and programming crew for the fabulous foundation for which to build a new digital Lego frontier on the Microsoft front of gaming dominance.” Nor did they take any of the heat off Notch for announcing his leaving Mojang shortly after the Microsoft announcement for his own sanity.

Do I know why Microsoft spent a metric ass-ton of money on this IP? Yes.

Do I care? Not in the slightest. Because, truth be told, it isn’t about gaming; it is pure business. And unless you want to read about how market share and saturation works, I’m pretty sure you don’t care either.

The bigger news I saw in this whole debacle was how Mojang – and specifically one of the brightest and most creative minds behind fun video games – BLATANTLY QUIT because his own public fan-base thought they were better than him.

Shame on you. Shame on you all.

Notch himself hasn’t programmed a damn thing in Minecraft in years. He has admitted it not only on his blog, but many times on twitter and in various interviews. He let the other programmers take the reins to build a better game for the public.

Read the last sentence again. Does that indicate a business-minded mentality?

What does that tell you about Notch as a human being? He’s not programming games for a paycheck. He’s programming games because he loves to create. It’s the creative instinct. If the inspiration and imagination doesn’t build new ideas for troubleshooting and dreaming of the ideas, it feels empty and unfulfilled. Notch isn’t here to make a few dollars off your mod or server farm, he wants to give you the most fun you can have on a game he developed. Even if it’s by proxy through his own team of developers.

So, to keep his own sanity, he quit. Like many others in the creative world who are chewed up by “fans” masquerading as followers but are nothing more than narcissistic assholes trying to berate someone for thinking or acting different than someone else. Grow up, and stop bullying. This isn’t grade school.

In many cases within the professional world, it is often suggested that athletes, actors, singers, and people with high-profile names DO NOT interact with the public for this very reason. I don’t blame any of them one bit. Similar to the chat worlds within most MOAB’s, the internet comment factory is filled with some of the most hateful vitriol ever spewed forth from literature. And as much as I am for free speech, I would love nothing more than the send a chatlog history to everyone in your family.

Here’s Notch’s “Going Away” speech, since his site crashed earlier, no doubt because of an internet hug:

I don’t see myself as a real game developer. I make games because it’s fun, and because I love games and I love to program, but I don’t make games with the intention of them becoming huge hits, and I don’t try to change the world. Minecraft certainly became a huge hit, and people are telling me it’s changed games. I never meant for it to do either. It’s certainly flattering, and to gradually get thrust into some kind of public spotlight is interesting.

A relatively long time ago, I decided to step down from Minecraft development. Jens was the perfect person to take over leading it, and I wanted to try to do new things. At first, I failed by trying to make something big again, but since I decided to just stick to small prototypes and interesting challenges, I’ve had so much fun with work. I wasn’t exactly sure how I fit into Mojang where people did actual work, but since people said I was important for the culture, I stayed.

I was at home with a bad cold a couple of weeks ago when the internet exploded with hate against me over some kind of EULA situation that I had nothing to do with. I was confused. I didn’t understand. I tweeted this in frustration. Later on, I watched the This is Phil Fish video on YouTube and started to realize I didn’t have the connection to my fans I thought I had. I’ve become a symbol. I don’t want to be a symbol, responsible for something huge that I don’t understand, that I don’t want to work on, that keeps coming back to me. I’m not an entrepreneur. I’m not a CEO. I’m a nerdy computer programmer who likes to have opinions on Twitter.

As soon as this deal is finalized, I will leave Mojang and go back to doing Ludum Dares and small web experiments. If I ever accidentally make something that seems to gain traction, I’ll probably abandon it immediately.

Considering the public image of me already is a bit skewed, I don’t expect to get away from negative comments by doing this, but at least now I won’t feel a responsibility to read them.

I’m aware this goes against a lot of what I’ve said in public. I have no good response to that. I’m also aware a lot of you were using me as a symbol of some perceived struggle. I’m not. I’m a person, and I’m right there struggling with you.

I love you. All of you. Thank you for turning Minecraft into what it has become, but there are too many of you, and I can’t be responsible for something this big. In one sense, it belongs to Microsoft now. In a much bigger sense, it’s belonged to all of you for a long time, and that will never change.

It’s not about the money. It’s about my sanity.

Personally, I think the thing to take away from here is summed up in a solitary line from Notch: “If I ever accidentally make something that seems to gain traction, I’ll probably abandon it immediately.”

Well said, brother. Sad, but well said.

And don’t let ANYONE keep you from doing what you love.


Make the art you want to make.

Love the job you love doing.

And if others don’t like what you are doing, that isn’t your problem – it’s theirs.

-Opinion by me.


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