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Minecraft: The Unlikely Tale of Markus "Notch" Persson and the Game That Changed Everything

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Minecraft: The Unlikely Tale of Markus "Notch" Persson and the Game That Changed Everything Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A few years ago, 32-year-old Markus "Notch" Persson of Stockholm was an unknown and bored computer programmer. Today, he is a multi-millionaire international icon. Minecraft, the "virtual Lego" game Markus crafted in his free time, has become one of the most talked about activities since Tetris. Talked about by tens of millions of people, in fact. It is the story of unlikely success, fast money, and the power of digital technology to rattle an empire. And it is about creation, exclusion, and the feeling of not fitting in.

Here Markus opens up for the first time about his life. About his old Lego-filled desk at school. About the first computer his father brought home one day. But also about growing up in a family marked by drug abuse and conflict. But above all it is the story of the fine line between seeming misfit and creative madman, and the birth of a tech visionary.

Minecraft: The Unlikely Tale of Markus "Notch" Persson and the Game that Changed Everything is a Cinderella story for the Internet age. 

About the Author

A completely unique and in-depth look at the creator of Minecraft, Markus "Notch" Persson, and his rise from unknown computer programmer to multi-millionaire international gaming icon. Minecraft, the "virtual Lego" game Markus crafted in his free time, has become one of the most talked about activities since Tetris. Talked about by tens of millions of people, in fact. It is the story of unlikely success, fast money, and the power of digital technology to rattle an empire. And it is about creation, exclusion, and the feeling of not fitting in.

Here Markus opens up for the first time about his life. About his old Lego-filled desk at school. About the first computer his father brought home one day. But also about growing up in a family marked by drug abuse and conflict. But above all it is the story of the fine line between seeming misfit and creative madman, and the birth of a tech visionary.

Minecraft: The Unlikely Tale of Markus "Notch" Persson and the Game that Changed Everything is a Cinderella story for the Internet age. 

Table of Contents

Chapter 1

Three, Two, One . . .

It’s November 18, 2011. An old man in a faded gray

sweater looks up from his slot machine. A long and

steady stream of children, teens, and grown-ups flows

through the casino. Their outfits are odd, even for this

place. In Las Vegas, you can count on seeing pretty much

anything: Elvis impersonators lined up on the sidewalks,

gigantic fake-gold lions, drunken weekend revelers, and

fountains shooting water hundreds of yards into the air

synchronized to the tune of the national anthem.

The people streaming through the casino at the Hotel

Mandalay Bay are wearing cardboard boxes on their

heads. Some are in full cardboard-box bodysuits with

armholes that look uncomfortable and make their elbows

stick straight out, like cubist comic-strip characters with

the posture of bodybuilders. The cardboard suits they’ve

squeezed into are painted in large colorful squares, some

green, some black. Others are light blue, brown, and

pink. The man at the slot machines, clueless, returns to

his game, his cigarette, and his morning cocktail.

The cardboard-box people aren’t there to win money.

They continue toward the convention facilities that are next

to the casino, where in a few minutes they will be cheering

as they watch a thirty-two-year-old Swede pull a lever and

release the finished version of their favorite game.

Minecraft. A computer game as incomprehensible to

the uninitiated as it is wildly adored by tens of millions

of people. Those who’ve traveled here are among the

game’s most devoted fans. Not only have they paid airfare

but also, before embarking for Las Vegas, they cut

and glued their suits, modeled on the game’s primitive

block graphics and shapes.

And there are thousands of them, representing a total of

twenty-three countries. The youngest is four years old and

the oldest is seventy-seven. Of the many parents, some

have made the trip just for their kids and are now observing

in awe a world their offspring adore but that is alien to

them. Others are just as passionate as their children.

“We play together constantly,” says a dad with

green-tinted hair, wearing a suit sprayed green, his face

covered with black bars as he poses for pictures with his

identically decked-out son.

A few minutes later. The convention hall where we’re seated

is the largest at the Mandalay Bay. It’s completely packed

and the lights are off. All eyes turn toward the stage and

Lydia Winters, who—impossible not to recognize with her

short, shocking pink hair—is firing up the audience.

“This weekend is going to be awesome!”

Giant screens are mounted on both sides of the stage

so that those sitting farther back can see what’s happening.

They all show Lydia’s happy, glowing, almost cartoon-

character-like smile.

“So many people’s . . . lives have been changed by this

game!”

Next to the stage, just to the left, the weekend’s big star is

waiting for the signal to step up into the spotlight: Markus

Persson, dressed in jeans, well-worn sneakers, and a black polo

that’s a bit tight around the middle. As always, he’s wearing a

black fedora. Markus doesn’t know what to do with his hands

while he waits. He pulls absentmindedly at the hem of his shirt

before his hands land in his jeans pockets, thumbs out.

There is an ocean of five thousand people seated

before him—if seated is the right word, because many

of them stand up as the first of Markus’s colleagues

arrive onstage. Lydia Winters calls them up and one by

one they trudge onstage, shyly wave a little at the audience,

and line up beside her. Jens Bergensten—the programmer,

tall, lanky, his red ponytail hanging down his

back. Carl Manneh—the CEO, who is perfectly okay with

Lydia keeping the microphone. Jakob Porser—Markus’s

old friend and the cofounder of his company. The graphics

guy, Junkboy—no, his real name is never given in

public—who leaps onstage wearing a cardboard box

on his head and making victory signs for the audience.

They’re all Swedish men, all in their late twenties and

early thirties, and they all work at Mojang, the company

that produces Minecraft. Most days they sit and work at

their computers in a shabby apartment on AÅãsoÅNgatan, in

Stockholm. But this is no ordinary day.

This is the moment when the final version of Minecraft

will be released to the public. Which means that until

today, the five thousand people in the audience—and

several million others around the world—have been

playing an unfinished game. A kind of prototype, which

has earned Markus close to $70 million and created one

of the world’s most admired companies.

This is MineCon, the first convention dedicated entirely

to Minecraft. The event began as a random idea at

the Mojang headquarters on SoÅNdermalm, in southern

Stockholm. Markus Persson asked on his blog if anyone

would pay ninety dollars to go to a Minecraft convention

in Las Vegas. Within a few weeks more than 43,000 people

said they would, and the Mandalay Bay was booked.

The hotel is a forty-four-story monumental monstrosity

built entirely of gold-tinted glass. In its twenty-two

restaurants, smoke-filled poker dens, and meandering

indoor malls, you can easily spend several days without

leaving the hotel—exactly as intended. As a rule, casinos

in Las Vegas have no windows or clocks, so that gamblers

will continue to feed money into the machines throughout

the night. The desert gambling mecca is no place for

people with regular circadian rhythms.

The coming days will be an unparalleled spectacle,

bizarre for those unfamiliar with gaming conventions

in general and especially so for those who don’t know

Minecraft in particular. People will line up for hours to

get Markus’s autograph. A costume contest will nearly

degenerate into a riot. Two British men, known by millions

of fans from their YouTube channel, will be greeted

like celebrities when they play videos on the stage, showing

functioning electronic equipment built entirely within

Minecraft.

It’s not that surprising. Minecraft had grown into

an unprecedented success story well before MineCon.

Sixteen million players had downloaded the game; more

than four million of them had paid for it. Minecraft had

been praised by pretty much every gaming magazine and

website in the world. And after all, it’s a game so engrossing

that thousands of its most faithful fans have traveled

to Las Vegas to celebrate that it is finally finished.

We have come here to understand why. We want to ask

the costumed men and women what it is about Minecraft

that makes them love it more than any other game. And

not least of all, we want to know why Markus’s strange

creation has earned him such enormous sums of money.

For it was, of course, the money that made us take note

of Markus Persson in the first place. In late 2010, the

unassuming programmer began to pop up in interviews,

describing how he’d struck gold with his remarkable

game. He always displayed a modest, almost surprised

demeanor in the face of his success. He didn’t seem to

have any idea what to do with his millions.

It looked like an improbable business success, a story

of a quick breakthrough and of sudden riches, a shining

example of how the Internet can shake the foundations

of an industry and create empires within months. But the

closer we looked, the more difficult it was to fit Minecraft

into the usual frameworks. There was no successful marketing

strategy to point to, no business plan that held the

secrets to success. There was just one guy with his own,

slightly odd idea of what the gaming world needed. The

story that emerged had very little to do with polished

businessmen and fast deals. Instead, we found an idea

rooted in Markus’s childhood, one that could only blossom

outside the established framework of the gaming

industry.

Actually, it’s only now, seated a few yards from the

stage, that we fully understand what a star Markus is.

Lydia Winters continues her exuberant introduction as

we scan the crowd. There’s a woman crying in the row

in front of us, which is reserved for special guests. Her

cheeks are pierced and she has henna-colored hair and

red scars in intricate patterns on her arms. There is also

a short girl holding a camera, beaming with pride. Right

beside her, there’s an older Swedish gentleman and a

lady with shoulder-length, pure-white hair.

“This all started because of one person,” says Lydia.

If anyone had entered the hall at that moment without

knowing what was going on, that person would have

guessed she was talking about a prophet. The room

erupts in cheers.

“I think we need to do better than that. I think we need

to chant to get him up onstage.”

The whole audience responds to Lydia’s suggestion.

The roar is deafening. “Notch! Notch! Notch!” Few people

in the room know him as Markus.

Down beside the stage, thoughts race through Markus’s

head. What should he say? He has always hated speaking

in public. On Twitter, he writes for half a million people,

but this is different. Onstage, there’s no backing up and

no erasing what he’s said. It’s all live, going out directly,

both to people on-site and to those following the event

online.

Forty minutes earlier, he had asked for a drink to calm

his nerves. Someone put a glass of vodka in his hand.

Now he’s standing there trying to figure out if he’s drunk

or not. Shouldn’t he be more nervous? There was something

about the stairs too—he shouldn’t look out at the

audience when he walks up onstage, someone had said.

He might trip.

Markus carefully climbs onto the stage. He looks

self-conscious, but breaks out in a timid smile when he

holds up his hand to wave to the audience. The spotlights

seem to blind him completely. Lydia, whose neon-colored

hair is accentuated by her all-black clothing, tries to

get a few words out of Markus. He says something about

“grateful” and “cool.”

“I love you, Notch!” someone from the audience cries.

Markus squirms.

The stage decor consists of paper models and figures

resembling those in the game. One life-size human figure

looks exactly like Steve, the Minecraft protagonist.

There’s a green monster, some boxes, and a column of

blocks sporting a lever. The lever’s not actually connected

to anything, but the energy level in the room rises

when Markus approaches it.

“Are you ready for the official release of

Minecraaaaaaaaft?” Lydia roars.

The audience roars back. A techno beat begins to

pump. But Markus hesitates, grips the lever, lets it go

again. Camera flashes and the noise level in the hall

begin to approach the limits of human tolerance. Finally,

Markus gives the lever a push. Fireworks explode and

confetti shoots out over the sea of faces. The music gets

even louder and the programmers onstage break out

dancing, as Minecraft 1.0 is finally released to the world.

Markus, off to the side, just nods his head to the beat. At

that moment, a technician behind the stage tells us, four

thousand people are logging in to play Minecraft. Four

thousand per second, that is.

Jakob, the old friend from an earlier time, dances up

to Markus and receives a hug that lifts him off the floor.

Use the link below to read an excerpt of Minecraft! 

http://issuu.com/sevenstories/docs/pages_from_minecraft

Product Details

ISBN:
9781609805371
Author:
Goldberg, Daniel
Publisher:
Seven Stories Press
Author:
Hawkins, Jennifer
Author:
Larsson, Linus
Subject:
Software Engineering-Game Design
Subject:
Science & Technology
Subject:
Biography-Scientists
Subject:
Biography - General
Copyright:
Publication Date:
20131031
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Language:
English
Illustrations:
16-PAGE PHOTO INSERT
Pages:
256
Dimensions:
7.26 x 5.46 x 1 in 0.74 lb

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