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'A Year With Minecraft' book looks at how Mojang deals with success

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A Year With Minecraft: Behind the Scenes at Mojang

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There have already been books and even a video documentary on Minecraft and its creator, Markus “Notch” Persson. These were primarily looks at the explosive success of the game in 2011 and before along with the founding of Mojang. A Year with Minecraft: Behind the Scenes at Mojang from Swedish journalist Thomas Arnroth could just as easily be called Minecraft: Year Two though as it investigates how Persson and the rest of the team at the studio deal with the aftermath of sudden riches and fame.

A Year with Minecraft primarily concerns itself with the experience of Mojang throughout 2012 though it does dip back into established territory to cover the humble beginnings of Markus “Notch” Persson , Minecraft and the rest of the studio. It also covers a bit into 2013 as well. This period of coverage is just after Minecraft’s official release to the PC at Minecon 2011 in Las Vegas, their move into a swanky new office and into the release of the Xbox 360 Edition.

The book covers many anecdotal stories in a non-sequential manner such as the amusing gingerbread house competition at the Mojang office that ended in flames and Persson’s attempt at a Minecraft follow-up with the hard sci-fi themed 0x10c which ended in abandonment.

Arnroth is as moreso a cultural anthropologist throughout than he is a journalist due to Persson’s and the rest of Mojang’s notorious private nature. At one point, Arnroth discusses how Persson and the rest of Mojang attempt to keep their public work personalities as transparent as possible while staying away from the personal which is reflected in the stories shared.

In short, don’t expect any details about the aftermath from the 2011 Minecon incident between Persson and Yogscast or a look at the separation between Persson and his wife which also occurred in 2012.

The most personal insight that Persson offers up himself was in discussing the development of 0x10c and its eventual abandonment. That’s consistently been the nature of Persson though where he’s shown himself to be most comfortable talking about coding over personal matters. A story on how he deals with an irate autograph seeker at MineCon in Disneyland Paris is also insightful though the incident of how Mojang as a whole dealt with French laborers is more amusing.

Still, the entire focus is not on Persson as much as it is on Mojang as how the company’s owners fill out a studio and the employees deal with both a sudden glut of cash and going from relative unknowns to “rock stars” in the gaming community. Arnroth manages to weave stories and experiences from several members of the studio together into an entertaining whole.

In an industry full of unique personalities and stories Mojang and Marcus Persson stand out of the overwhelming success of Minecraft. The origin story has been told but the continuing saga of the development studio may be even more interesting based on A Year With Minecraft: Behind the Scenes at Mojang from Thomas Arnroth.

Pros

  • An entertaining read of how Mojang dealt with the enormous success of Minecraft.
  • Introduction to the backstory of many of the personalities behind Minecraft.

Cons

  • Don’t expect any controversy
  • Obvious that private nature of Mojang’s team made Arnoroth more of an observer.

Title: A Year With Minecraft: Behind the Scenes at Mojang
Platform(s): Book
Author: Thomas Arnoroth
Publisher: ECW Press
Price: $17.95
Release Date: Feb. 4, 2014

Note: A Year With Minecraft: Behind the Scenes at Mojang from ECW Press is the physical print version of the ebook, A Year With Mojang: Behind the Scenes of Minecraft, from Paradox Interactive.

A review copy of A Year With Minecraft: Behind the Scenes at Mojang was provided by ECW Press for the purposes of this review.

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