Coming from very humble beginnings. Minecraft has slowly blossomed in to one of the most popular video games of all time. Minecraft is a first/third person open-world block building survival RPG. Did you get all that? Minecraft is a bit hard to define because it really created its own genre. The game brings the satisfaction of building things (a la toys like LEGOs) together with traditional survival and RPG video game elements. This combination makes for a video game where a lot of the entertainment comes from exploring the unknown and learning what you are capable of doing.
The game was officially released in 2011 but had been in development and “open” alpha and beta phases since 2009. With it’s simple visuals, most of the development time was spent on making sure the game blossomed in to the exploration survival RPG it was planned to become. The design of the game is such that at first it seems very simple, get some wood, make some planks and tools, and build yourself a shelter. But as you explore more and learn more about the world and materials, you’ll find yourself surprised and excited at the complexity.
Minecraft is much more ambitious of a game than the name suggests. While the mining you do in the game is the most fun you will have exploring, it is only about half of the focus of the game. The other half is building, surviving, and farming. You will need to mine to get the very best materials, and doing so is not as boring as you might think. It is surprisingly exhilarating the first time you find diamond ore, and certainly terrifying the first time you mine yourself right in to an underground dungeon filled with creepers, spiders, lava, and many other fun creatures and environments. Just make sure to ALWAYS have a torch on hand. Mining in the dark is not advised.
The feature that really took this game over the top in to popularity is the online multiplayer functions the game had from the start. Building and surviving with friends (or strangers if you don’t mind remorseless griefing) is significantly more satisfying than going it alone. On top of the ability to play with others online, the game also supports modding, and the modding community for Minecraft really added a lot to the game experience. With mods you can do the basics like change the visuals or the sounds of the game, but where mods really shine is the game modes and new environments that the modding community creates.
Another big component of Minecraft’s success is the online Streamers and Let’s Players that create Minecraft content. The audience for this content tends to be kids and young adults, but the number of the is surprisingly large. So much so that there are several Streamers and Let’s Players that make a comfortable living doing nothing but playing Minecraft. If you haven’t been living under a rock for the past 5 years, then you have at least heard of Minecraft. If you want to experience the game, you can do so yourself by buying it, or by visiting your favorite Streamer/Let’s Player and join the millions of viewing only fans.