November 27, 2013, 10:52 AM — The wildly popular game "Minecraft" is a lot like its creator, Markus "Notch" Persson: modest in style and origin and apparently still true to its roots despite phenomenal success. In their new book just published in the U.S., authors Daniel Goldberg and Linus Larsson go behind the scenes to tell the story of how their shy fellow Swede became the indie games industry's first real rock star.
They recently talked to IDG News Service about the lessons tech innovators can take away from Persson's success, why the PC is still an important platform for game development and whether Persson's company Mojang can keep its indie cred despite having a blockbuster hit.
The story behind "Minecraft: The Unlikely Tale of Markus "Notch" Persson and the Game that Changed Everything" has a bit of a twist itself: Goldberg says that he and Larsson set out to write a business book that shared the lessons of how to make a fortune online, delving into marketing strategy and the like. "It fairly quickly became apparent to us that we wouldn't be getting anywhere by doing that, because Markus had no idea. So much about this happened by coincidence," Goldberg says. Making the book a more personal story provided the opportunity to tell a story that is often missing in the tech world: "There's a tendency to view programmers as businesspeople and engineers, and there's often little room left to discuss them as artistic people, creative people. We really wanted this to be a book about a creative person," he says.
IDGNS: What lessons about innovation can techies take away from the story?
Larsson: One of my favorite parts of the story is when Markus had been working in the games industry in Stockholm for a couple of years, and decided to quit . He was fed up with the way games were being developed. So he decided to take just a regular job as a programmer and to pursue his own projects in his spare time. Only then could he begin creating what later became "Minecraft." It says something about how creativity and the most unique ideas don't get realized within regular corporate structures, and the necessity of believing in your own ideas and going your own way even if it means leaving a pretty good job and doing it as a hobby.