15 Fun Facts About Minecraft

Whether you’re an avid player or have one in your life, you’ve probably had at least a brief encounter with Minecraft by now. Here are a few things you might not know about the gaming juggernaut.

1. THE FIRST VERSION OF MINECRAFT WAS CREATED IN JUST SIX DAYS.

In 2009, Swedish programmer and designer Markus Persson (known affectionately to fans as “Notch”) set out to create a sandbox game—one that allows for free and organic exploration of a virtual world—for the launch of his new company, Mojang AB. Persson began work on what is now Minecraft on May 10 of that year, amending the product in increments until May 16. The “alpha version” of Minecraft made its public debut the very next day.

2. THE GAME WASN’T DEEMED COMPLETE FOR ANOTHER TWO YEARS.

Following Minecraft’s release on PC, Mojang would periodically update and tweak the game until delivering what the company considered its full version on November 18, 2011.

3. THE GAME’S FIRST NAME WAS MUCH MORE STRAIGHTFORWARD.

When Persson kicked off the development process, he referred to the project as “Cave Game.” The name was soon changed to Minecraft: Order of the Stone, and, ultimately, just Minecraft.

4. MINECRAFT WAS INSPIRED BY SEVERAL OTHER GAMES.

Minecraft’s creator has heralded PC video games Dwarf Fortress, Dungeon Keeper, RollerCoaster Tycoon, and Infiniminer as the primary influences for Minecraft. Persson has expressed particular esteem for Infiniminer, stating that he wanted to match its aesthetic charm with RPG-style game play.

5. CREEPERS BEGAN AS A CODING ERROR.

One of Minecraft’s stranger native species is the creeper, an electrically charged predator with a haunting mug. Persson didn’t actually set out to design such a monster; he was trying to create a pig, but accidentally switched the figures for desired height and length when inputting the code. The result was the monstrosity that players know and love.

6. THE ENDERMAN LANGUAGE IS ACTUALLY ENGLISH IN REVERSE (OR PITCHED DOWN).

Another haunting Minecraft species is the Enderman. While this creature’s speech is nearly incomprehensible to the human ear, most of its exclamations are in fact English words and phrases (including “hiya,” “here,” “this way,” “forever,” and “what’s up?”) played backwards or lowered in pitch.

7. GHASTS ARE VOICED BY A SLEEPING CAT.

One other Minecraft monster owes its vocal rumblings to a real world creature. Any player will recognize the high-pitched whine of the ghast, the game’s resident block-shaped fire breather. These sounds are actually the result of an accidental audio recording of Minecraft music producer Daniel “C418” Rosenfeld’s cat as it was suddenly awakened from a nap. Rosenfeld originally planned to have his cat voice the game’s ocelots, too, but was only successful in eliciting a meow mixed with a purr and ended up having to download real ocelot audio.  

8. MINECRAFT PLAYS A BIG ROLE AT A SWEDISH SCHOOL …

In 2013, the Viktor Rydberg secondary school in Stockholm introduced Minecraft as a mandatory part of its curriculum for all of its 13-year-old students. A teacher explained what made the game worthwhile for students: “They learn about city planning, environmental issues, getting things done, and even how to plan for the future.” 

9. BUT IS AN EVEN BIGGER DEAL IN DENMARK. 

Sweden’s neighbor to the south has touted an even more impressive affection for Minecraft. In 2014, state employees Simon Kokkendorf and Thorbjørn Nielsen of the Danish Geodata Agency completed a scale replica of the entire nation of Denmark within the digital world-building game to help drive interest in geographic data. 

10. THE GAME’S FAME IS THE PRODUCT OF FREE MARKETING. 

According to a study conducted by Annenberg School of Communication doctoral student Alex Leavitt, one third of early Minecraft users first heard about the game from friends and another third discovered the game through YouTube videos. 

11. DESPITE CLAIMING AN INFINITE SPAN, THE GAME’S WORLD HAS SEEN ITS LIMITS.

In 2011, Persson took to his personal blog to address the limitations of the allegedly boundless world of Minecraft:

Let me clarify some things about the ‘infinite’ maps: They’re not infinite, but there’s no hard limit either. It’ll just get buggier and buggier the further out you are. Terrain is generated, saved and loaded, and (kind of) rendered in chunks of 16*16*128 blocks. These chunks have an offset value that is a 32 bit integer roughly in the range negative two billion to positive two billion. If you go outside that range (about 25% of the distance from where you are now to the sun), loading and saving chunks will start overwriting old chunks. At a 16/th of that distance, things that use integers for block positions, such as using items and pathfinding, will start overflowing and acting weird.

12. HOWEVER, ONE DEVOTED FAN CHOSE TO SET OFF ON AN ENDLESS QUEST. 

Players would have to walk an extreme distance—the digital equivalent of approximately 7500 miles—before witnessing serious coding meltdown. This virtual wasteland was known, appropriately, as the “Far Lands.” 

Right around the time of the aforementioned blog post, gamer Kurt J. Mac decided to test the limits of Minecraft and travel to the Far Lands. He began his quest in March 2011. Don’t think it a total waste of time; Mac earned a good deal of notoriety on YouTube, and raised over $250,000 for Child’s Play Charity. (The Far Lands, sadly, were removed in an update to the game later that year; you’d need version 1.7.3 or earlier to follow in Mac’s virtual footsteps.)

13. THE CREATOR’S AVATAR BOASTS A UNIQUE TRAIT. 

Appropriately enough, Persson reserved a special trick for his personal Minecraft avatar. His character is the only game resident who drops an apple when he dies.

14. PERSSON OPENED UP BIDDING FOR MINECRAFT WITH A TWEET.

Ostensibly fed up with the corporate politics that accompanied running a video game developer, Persson sent out a tweet in June 2014, hoping to gauge the interest of any outside parties in purchasing his Mojang shares. Three months later, he officially sold the company to Microsoft for $2.5 billion.

15. EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE, THE GAME GETS ITS OWN NAME WRONG.

One in every 10,000 times you play the game, its introductory menu will flash a misspelling of its own title, reversing the “E” and the “C” to read, “Minceraft.”

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iStock
The NES Classic Edition Is Returning to Stores June 29
iStock
iStock

It wasn’t easy to land an NES Classic Edition when Nintendo released it in November 2016. In fact, it was nearly impossible. Stores were selling through their (extremely limited) stock within hours of hitting shelves, and soon enough, the only way to actually get one was to pay well above the MSRP on eBay or through a scalper.

Nintendo is now giving people another shot to satisfy their 8-bit nostalgia as the company announced that the NES Classic Edition will be hitting stores yet again starting June 29. Best Buy has already gotten out in front of it, announcing that they will be using a ticketing system for the console similar to how they treat Black Friday—and both in-store and online orders will be limited to just one per customer.

Chances are, many major retailers that got shipments in 2016 will get new stock on Friday, but no one knows how many each store will get, exactly. Thrillist got in touch with stores like ThinkGeek—which said "We do know it will be similar to last time. So, people will have to act fast."—and GameStop, where some stores may just see 10 units overall on Friday. If you want to make sure you're not wasting your time, call ahead.

This all may sound like more gloom and doom from Nintendo, but in a Facebook post about the release, the company did say both the NES and SNES Classic Editions will be available through the end of the year, meaning that while you might not score one on the 29th, you could still get one with a little patience.

The NES Classic hitting stores on June 29 will be the same one released in 2016, with 30 pre-loaded games, like Super Mario Bros. 3 and The Legend of Zelda, retailing at $59.99. The company's renewed interest in the Classic Edition isn't just a U.S. thing; on July 7, gamers in Japan will be able to pick up a special gold Famicom Mini loaded with 20 games based on popular manga series like Dragon Ball, Saint Seiya, and Fist of the North Star. Don't expect that one to make its way stateside, though.

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Netflix
A New Stranger Things Video Game Is in the Works
Netflix
Netflix

The world of Stranger Things is ready to get the proper video game treatment. TechRadar exclusively revealed that the hit sci-fi series from Netflix will be coming to consoles, courtesy of Telltale Games. Though details are scarce, this seems to be the beginning of a working relationship between the two companies as it was also announced that Telltale’s popular Minecraft: Story Mode game will soon be brought to Netflix as a “5-episode interactive narrative series,” according to the site.

Though Minecraft will be experienced through Netflix itself, the Stranger Things game will be a traditional console/computer release. If you’re unfamiliar with Telltale, its brand of games tends to favor a branching narrative experience that emphasizes player choice over button mashing. These point-and-click adventures usually don’t have a standard release schedule, either; instead, they’re split up into parts and distributed episodically for download. The games are usually released on consoles, including the Nintendo Switch, as well as PC, Android, and iOS.

While the highlight of Telltale’s work is widely considered to be its Walking Dead adaptations, they’ve also found success with other blockbuster franchises like Game of Thrones, Guardians of the Galaxy, and its latest effort, Batman: The Enemy Within. There’s no word on whether or not the Stranger Things cast will be involved in the game, or if it will follow the established Telltale formula. In a statement to TechRadar, a spokesperson for the developer said, “we're excited to reveal details on these projects later in the year.”

This might not be the end of Netflix’s foray into the video game world. While the company has no plans to enter the market itself, TechRadar did find a job listing at Netflix for a Manager of Interactive Licensing who will "use games as a marketing tactic to capture demand and delight our member community (ex: Stranger Things: The Game)." May your dreams of a Narcos economic simulator game be realized.

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