Tuesday, 16 September 2014

We need a role model

So Notch (along with all the other founders, it seems) has resigned his position from Mojang, and publicly distanced himself from anything to do with Minecraft, now that he's personally worth in excess of $1B USD.

Why? The screed he left is a bit rambly, but seems to boil down to not wanting the responsibility for the overall Minecraft community. Some other of his writings definitely convey that he’s got pretty sick and tired of dealing with managing Mojang and all the extra issues that come with it. But he doesn’t want to have anything to do with Minecraft any more. He says, at the end, “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.”

I’m sorry, Notch, but you don’t have that choice. You are responsible for something as big as Minecraft, because you made it, and you put your name on it. You’re responsible for a one-hundred-million-strong user base, which means over the course of the last five years, you are invariably responsible for inspiring more than a couple of people to become programmers. I don’t think Star Trek had an audience that big when it was in production, and it’s only too easy to find stories of the actors—not even Gene Roddenberry, but James Doohan and Nichelle Nichols—talking about how fans approached them, repeatedly, at conventions, telling them that the show had changed their lives and given them a career (and in one case I can recall, Doohan saved a young woman considering suicide).

You’ve established a subculture within gaming, Notch, and it’s one that seems to have a level playing field amongst genders and ages. Your game does what no other game does, and considering the fucking shit show that is gaming culture right now, you owe it to the world to show that, in fact, some gamers can treat people with mutual respect. You are a role model, and this is the time, of all times, to act like one.

Minecraft’s great. I have the Pocket Edition demo on my iPad, and I pop it up every now and then. I’ve been considering shelling out the $7 to be able to play it properly. But if you’re going to act like this… you know, maybe I don’t want to.

Come back to Minecraft, Notch. Your audience needs you.

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