Genre: Open-World-Survival
Studio: Mojang
Publisher: Mojang
Rent a server
Rent a server
Genre: Open-World-Survival
Studio: Mojang
Publisher: Mojang

Who created Minecraft?

Minecraft was created by a man named Markus Alexej Persson, better known as Notch, who combined his love of video games with the endless possibilities of Lego and programming. With the help of his company located in Stockholm, Sweden, he invented one of the best-selling and wildly popular games in the world: Minecraft.

6 facts about the founder of Minecraft

  • Founder name: Markus Alexej Persson (*1979, Stockholm)
  • self-taught programmer
  • combined his childhood passion to Lego with his programmer skills
  • created Minecraft(then ‘Cave game’) in 2009 with worldwide success
  • sold the company behind Minecraft, Mojang Studios, to Microsoft in 2014 and retired

A Commodore PC & Lego Bricks…

Persson was born in 1979, as the oldest child of a railroad worker and a nurse. He grew up in the small town of Edsbyn, near Stockholm. In his early life, Notch was known to enjoy playing in the woods. At home, he was an avid Lego player. His earliest contact with the digital world came in the form of a computer his father bought, a commodore 128. While not as influential as its previous model, the Commodore 64, this computer was Persson’s gateway to the world of 1s and 0s.

Reportedly, he spent much of his free time programming with the tools he had. By the age of eight, he had already written his first computer program: a text-based adventure game, created together with his younger sister. The successful attempt formed the starting point of his later life success. From this moment onward, Notch knew that he wanted to become a game developer. However, the video game industry was still in its infancy during the 80’s, so becoming a developer was seen as a risk.

Career on the Developer Fast Track

As his teachers advised against betting everything on what could have realistically been a pipe dream, Notch studied graphic design from age 15 to 18. Although a good student, he never finished high school and started working as a web designer in the early 2000s. Initially, it was small-time work; a self-taught programmer without a formal degree had little choice during that time.

However, his skills did not go unnoticed: In 2005, he joined game developer Midasplayer. At the time, they were relatively obscure, though they are now known as King, the company behind Candy Crush. Whether Notch was involved with it is unknown. Apparently, he mostly worked on Flash games, which were hard to find even when Flash was still supported.In 2009, he moved to jAlbum as a programmer. In case you haven’t heard of them: jAlbum is an independent website used to create and share photo galleries. Apparently, he didn’t find this job too fulfilling either and quit in 2010 in order to do Minecraft as a full time job.

minecraft creator
Minecraft Notch

Minecraft: A game for Generations

Throughout the 2000’s, Notch worked on several game ideas. One of them, RubyDung, is perhaps the oldest prototype of the game we know today. Inspired by base-building games and Dwarf Fortress in particular, Notch only released 5 screenshots, so we don’t really know what it was like. Later, Notch would come across another game, Infiniminer, an open-world sandbox game with a blocky graphic. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

With the combined basis of RubyDung and the inspiration from Infiniminer, Notch began to develop Cave Game, which would later be called Minecraft. It represented an open world game that is theoretically infinite. Just as today, the world consisted of blocks and had no set goals, levels or instructions.

Though we know these elements all too well today, they were revolutionary at the time. That isn’t to say that Minecraft was the first sandbox or survival game, but it was the first one to combine them in this way. Especially in tandem with the fresh graphic style, it is no wonder that Minecraft became fairly popular after its release.

2010: The Gates Open

According to Persson, Minecraft was created in just one week and released as an ‘early-access’ game. This allowed players to test the alpha version and share their experiences with the developer. This tactic is used by developers even today and has been shown to be very effective. 

With the active online presence of Notch, a growing community began to rally around the game. With this community came a plethora of feedback and new ideas. As a result, the beta version (advanced development version) was released in 2010 and the final game version in 2011.

Minecraft became more and more popular and was able to inspire across generations: the game was popular with parents and their children. In addition, the game was equally popular with girls and boys, which was unusual at the time. By then, Persson, with his alias Notch, was the leading figure and a gaming superstar – inside and outside the Minecraft world. 

2014: The Breaking Point

Over the course of the next 3 years, Persson was busy handling development and marketing for both Minecraft as a game and Mojang as a company. In 2014, however, he reached a breaking point. He had already withdrawn from the creative leadership role of Minecraft in 2011 and had handed it over to Jens Bergensten. Now, with the increased media attention as well as several personal tragedies straining his well-being, Notch decided to leave the company.

But in 2014, Minecraft had already become an extremely profitable game. In 2012, Minecraft was released for the Xbox and sold over one million game units in its first week alone, so when Notch announced that he was ready to sell the company and the rights to the game, some big players knocked on his door. Companies such as Activision Blizzard and EA made offers but to no avail. In 2014, Persson sold Mojang Studios to Microsoft for $2.5 billion.

Today, Notch himself is relatively quiet on social media. He hasn’t published any large projects since his leave from Mojang, although he founded a new game studio in 2015 called Rubberbrain. All in all, Notch has largely vanished from the public consciousness, though his legacy in the form of Minecraft is certain to outlive his personal fame. But for someone who values his privacy, maybe that is not a bad thing.

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