My latest PopMatters post is up, and it’s about Minecraft.
It’s always difficult to analyze a game during the height of its popularity. Whether they are critical darlings like Limbo or commercial behemoths like Grand Theft Auto IV, many games enjoy a brief moment in the sun in which they are hailed as the “Next Big Thing.” Inevitably, the next “Next Big Thing” comes along and turns what was once heralded as a revolution into a footnote.
I’ll be interested to see what happens to Minecraft. Like the rest of the gaming world, I’ve been fascinated by the game. It’s not everyday that you see a game released with no marketing go on to such popularity. The amount of popularity and creativity poured into the game is staggering, and the fact that people still seem to be finding new ways of using it is equally impressive. I’m was looking forward to the day when someone creates a working game of Minecraft inside of Minecraft.
Whether or not people are still playing and talking about the game years from now, I think Minecraft is a useful game for showcasing the current state of the medium as a whole. It’s a game whose difficulty and open-ended nature is reminiscent of both text adventures and the most modern sand box games. It’s a game driven largely by a single person, but Markus Persson is hardly cut off from the world, slaving away in isolation. In a time where the Internet offers instant access to every scrap of information about a game, Minecraft still holds mysteries.
Minecraft might be a sign of the future or it might be just another flash in the pan, albeit a brilliant one. Regardless, it offers a great synthesis of old design habits, new trends, and hints at what the future may hold.