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Yes, we’re being bought by Microsoft (mojang.com)
941 points by jordanmessina on Sept 15, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 515 comments

For people without children, here are some quick notes on the situation in kiddieland:

- My son is 7. We bought iPad edition first, shelled some more for PC edition last month, and I'm sure I'll be forced to buy more in the future if MS puts a price tag on it.

- I spend a fair amount of time during weekends for deciphering the modding world, trying to find something called CraftBukkit, learning to mod, finding launchers, finding maps shown on some Youtube video etc. because the son is mad about it. BUT, he's spending hours trying to learn JS (ScriptCraft on Bukkit) just to make an exploding arrow. I truly believe this is analogous to C64 days back then.

- School started today, he's moved to another school this year. The first thing he asked to his news friends was about Minecraft. Then he advertised how PC version is superior to the one on iPad.

- My 2 yo daughter knows what Minecraft is, tells she'll play Minecraft when she grows up.

- While we were shopping for school supplies last week, saw two people asking for Minecraft licensed school bags for their kids.

- We live in Turkey.

"Minecraft is digital Lego . . . We only wish we had invented it." - Lego's marketing director. (1)

I think that's an interesting quote to understand both the generational appeal of Minecraft and why the deal makes sense.

Continuing the lego comparison, Lego was recently valued at ~$15b (2) and I think that also demonstrates the potential here.

Lego mastered the IP licensing biz (lego star wars, batman), merchandising (theme parks, etc), distribution (market specific sets etc).

I'm almost surprised that Disney wasn't the acquirer but I imagine that with a corporate profiteer behind Mojang we'll see significant expansion of the brand.

(1) http://www.atbmedia.com/lego-we-wish-wed-invented-minecraft/

(2) http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-03-13/lego-builds-new-bil...

Lego had the opportunity to buy digital lego ( http://blockland.us/ ) Blockland's creator went to Lego to see if they were interested in his game while he was working on the retail version, but for whatever reason no deal was made and Blockland was released without external branding. This all happened much earlier than Minecraft: Blockland was featured on the Screen Savers in 2005, and had a retail release in 2007, two years before Minecraft development started.

I think Minecraft goes beyond digital lego though. There are many little pieces of minecraft's design which came together to make a game better than one would expect. I honestly wonder how many of those choices were intentionally done by Notch, and how many were arbitrary choices which happened to be right.

Minecraft was at the right place at the right time, it had already occurred in nearly identical forms earlier yet failed to "pop". http://minecraft.gamepedia.com/Infiniminer

I think there's a tendency in people to assume that massively successful properties like Minecraft become massively successful because they're special or innovative. While this may play a role, it is rarely the only important factor, and sometimes is not a relevant factor at all.

The reality is that Minecraft's explosive popularity is the result of a perfect storm of all kinds of fickle conditions. It doesn't mean that Notch made the "right" arbitrary choices, as some posters in this thread have intimated; it just means that the choices he made didn't preclude the other externalities from converging.

I think the two biggest factors in Minecraft's success were a) notch's responsiveness and availability to the community on reddit and twitter and b) Mojang's decision to have the game ported to Xbox. Neither of these have much to do with the specific design decisions in Minecraft itself (many of which were frankly terrible and are still only gradually being reversed).

I doubt the importance of the xbox port. It was a poor port that couldn't be modded and only came around once the game was already a big internet fad.

My anecdote may not be representative, but in my experience, Minecraft was able to spread and become a massive fad among elementary school age kids because they could download it to their Xbox. All the kids I know who play Minecraft do it primarily on the Xbox until they get really into it, at which point they convince their parents to let them download it for the PC.

The xbox release definitely gave it the huge boost it needed.

My kid started playing Minecraft in the Xbox when he was 2. He couldn't even use the control right, his hands were too small for legos, but almost right for the controller. You wouldn't believe what a 2 year old mind can build.

The Xbox is now the Minecraft machine, it has no other uses.

What are some examples of poor design decisions that were made?

Modding is a very popular part of Minecraft.

TO mod Minecraft you have to:-

i) find the right mod - it has to be for the correct version of Minecraft

ii) Locate the Minecraft jar; expand it.

iii) Copy the mod into the correct folder

iv) Delete a file (if you haven't already)

v) recompress

vi) test

vii) do all this again for the next mod you want to apply

A better mod interface would be lovely.

I teach kids to do cool stuff with computers.

I don't teach them Minecraft. Sometimes I wonder if maybe I should. But then, I really don't need to. The kids that want to, seem to have no problems at all figuring out the seven steps you just posted. They use a combination of youtube videos/tutorials, persistence, and if all else fails, reading the docs/wiki. What I help them with is basic computer literacy (I can read English faster, and know my way around the OS, file system, zip/jar files, etcetera, quicker). I'm just a catalyst in that sense. In fact I know very little about Minecraft at all (I think I know slightly more about modding the game than actually playing it).

The kids that have a drive to figure this out (and some are as young as 7 years old, incredible), also happen to be the same ones that will want to learn other types of programming such as shell scripting (or .bat/VBS programming, depending on the OS), relatively advanced Gamemaker stuff, things like that. They also like explaining these things to the other kids (which we try to encourage).

For that reason, and that reason alone[0], I do ban Minecraft in certain circumstances. I only allow it if they're actually modding stuff instead of just playing. They only get to play games the second half of the day (if they want), otherwise they have to do something more creative on the computers (or go play somewhere else). This limitation is because I've found, by experience and experiment--not just because I want to believe this is the case--that there are many kids who have talents to do truly amazing things on the computer at a young age, and that it really helps them if they're not surrounded by peers simply playing games on those same computers (peers that have other, non-computer-related talents, but just happen to like playing video games, become a distraction). Of course they have to test their mods in a real life network setting later on, which makes it even cooler :)

[0] okay, there is one other reason. you may be familiar with applications such as TeamSpeak or Ventrilo. Kids like to use a similar voice-based, wireless communication protocol known as "shouting across the room".

I have kids playing Minecraft too, how many minutes/hours of screen time do you allow per day?

The full day is open from 10-16h, they get to play games from 14h until closing time.

Some kids circumvent this by watching YouTube videos of games instead ... but usually not for too long, because they quickly realize there's so much other interesting stuff to do. I sometimes feel I should regulate this watching of videos too, but it never really got to a point where it was that bad. There's also a social aspect to it, when there's five kids watching a video of a cat doing something silly. Plus, observing what they like to watch helps me connect to their world a bit better. It also makes me understand the more inane and stupid parts of YouTube better. In particular those ultra-cheesy MineCraft music videos, with the over-autotuned voices, superhappy melodies about mining stuff and creepers. On the one hand it's a terrible musical equivalent of HFCS, on the other hand, the sheer exuberance and happiness that radiates from it makes me remember, I loved to listen to Happy Hardcore when I was young :) :)

I don't regulate their general "screen time" (how long they are at a computer), although a few of the parents do tell their kids they don't want them the entire day in the computer area. Surprisingly, those kids take care of that request fairly good by themselves, partially because there's more than enough other fun and interesting things to do, partially because there's something about how the place is run, giving the kids some responsibilities, positive attitudes, that just makes them really well-behaved.

I recently learned that Steve Jobs didn't give iPads to his own kids and maintained an atmosphere to intellectually stimulating conversation with their kids, as it has been before tech. He gave them bookBooks instead (hilarious IKEA book book ad https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MOXQo7nURs0).

Other tech CEOs limit at 30 minutes screen time per day for their kids.


They're not raising their kids to sling code for a living.

CEO's also don't have to use iPad's and TV as cheap babysitters.

> "...on the other hand, the sheer exuberance and happiness that radiates from it makes me remember, I loved to listen to Happy Hardcore when I was young"

Haha, this made me laugh. I think it's great that you have that perspective!

Even I wasn't sure in the beginning with by Son. But I think we don't have to worry, they do get bored and then want other activities. So, don't have to police kids too much.

I don't help my Son much in getting mods and stuff. So, he does whatever he can. That puts some sort of a break.

Modding hasn't been like that for over two years nowadays. These days it's:

1) Download the MinecraftForge Installer and run it.

2) Find the right mods you want.

3) Copy the mod into the correct folder.

4) Change configuration (if you want)

5) Test

Furthermore, you can use various launchers such as the Feed The Beast launcher where you download the launcher, run it, pick a pack that it'll download and then run with a very low chance (< 1%) of there being problems. Oh, and you can also join servers that are configured to that modpack too without doing anything.

You miss the bits where you pray the mod isn't carrying anything malicious and you hunt around for a version that is compatible with the engine version you are running.

That's a lot of copying. Sounds like minecraft could do with a proper package manager. Maybe Microsoft will give it nuget support(har har).

Compare this to a game like KSP where modding is also very popular.

Installing a mod is generally: extract rar to game folder. Step two is play the game.

Sure, adding a mod is not trivial, but that's just a technical hurdle for an advanced feature. Nor is that process difficult for someone who can follow a list of instructions. Neither this nor your original comment actually address the core user-level design features. The point at which you feel whatever pain there is in trying to mod the game happens only after you enjoy the game and decide it's worthwhile to mode.

While Infiniminer was an acknowledged inspiration of Minecraft's, I think it's fair to say that Minecraft is a fork (schism is maybe more accurate), since the focus of the game was changed towards the creative/exploratory aspects, instead of the "competitive mining" aspect.

Infiniminer was written in C#, so calling Minecraft a fork isn't fair since they don't share a common source lineage. However, saying Infiniminer was the inspiration for Minecraft or that early Minecraft was a Infiniminer clone seems more fair.

The thing about Minecraft is, it's a lot like Beatles music. It's a simple game with straightforward gameplay, but it comes together so well, it's extremely catchy and fun. There is the random drop element with blocks. There is the creative element with building. There are the exploration and social elements. Then there are the monsters that come out at night, the rush to build a shelter etc. And let's not forget creepers. I think there wasn't a single monster in the history of video games that scared me more than a creeper coming from behind with the "sssss" sound.

These design decisions could have been lucky, but I think it really takes a person who "gets it" like Notch, who spent years up to that point thinking about and building games to internalize what makes a game fun, and turn it into something that comes together like Minecraft.

At the time Lego would have been just pulling out of near bankruptcy that probably contributed to not jumping on blockland and/or doing more to make their own digital lego (the steady trickle of games have always been lego themed rather than lego-like).

The idea isn't really the thing though is it?

The basic idea is the product being worked on in Douglas Coupland's Microserfs released in 1995 (Blockland launched 2004, Minecraft 2011).

As you say, it's the design and execution.

I remember telling my brother about two years ago "You know what would be a great game? A game where you can make things, worlds etc., from a few fundamental pieces, just like lego." He said good idea, but it's already been done and is called Minecraft and our cousins play it non-stop.

I think Lego could still take on Minecraft with a digital building world based around the iconic minifigs.

I wonder if they're concerned that it might cannibalise their existing product sales? The Lego games on consoles already are not about building, they're just platformers. To build a Minecraft equivalent for Lego, you'd need to give out a lot of bricks/options and that'd work against the current default with Lego which involves buying more and more sets.

Lego is all the wrong scale, I think. A 1:1 translation wouldn’t work (but maybe this is just a case of Survivorship Bias and Minecraft-like games would have worked at a wide range of scales).

Building 3D models with contemporary computer interfaces is clumsy and the really powerful tools for it are also clearly tools. Using them is work, not play.

Minecraft takes this building of 3D models and simplifies it, making it suitable for play.

Part of that is certainly putting that building in an alive and big world with rules and limits. That way the play isn’t happening in some sterile environment. That also provides jumping off points for creativity. Whoever plays doesn’t have to come up with everything on their own. There are already elements all around that are starting points. (Lego does much the same with their play sets. Coming up with something completely new is often hard, so they provide a whole world as a guideline and starting point.)

However, another big part is creating completely new tools for building 3D models. Those tools are much less powerful than what you can find in any 3D modelling program, but they are also much, much simpler to use – both because they have a real world analog (Lego and all other building blocks), but also because of their large scale. Computer interfaces are still clumsy, so to make building fun (enough) and not too boring picking an appropriate scale was very important, I think. And that 1m scale of Minecraft (blocks are one cubic meter, two block high corridors are high enough for the player to walk through) just works very well for that.

I don’t think Lego’s scale would. It‘s too detailed, too small.

Lego had the lego creator video game long before Minecraft. Minecraft is something a bit more special.

Lego is really, really paranoid about the kids being exposed to "bad influences" and predators. Those definitely exist, but Lego is a huge, fat target for lawsuits. IIRC chat was next to nonexistent in the Lego online products.

Mojang? Too small to care about. The parents seem to know that; at least I haven't heard about any multi-million dollar lawsuits revolving around MineCraft's chat, for instance.

I really wonder what Microsoft is going to do about this.

The thing with Minecraft is that it's pretty difficult for children to get in trouble with it. Chat is a minor part of the game and it's hard to send long messages; it's more or less just for coordinating builds. Servers are often private or invite-only and often involve mostly people the kids knew in real life. External resources cannot be imported into the game, so you don't have to worry about offensive avatars or sprays. If someone is really that dedicated to putting a naked woman in Minecraft, and I'm sure some children are, it would be a super pixelated version built out of Minecraft blocks that most parents wouldn't find explicit or offensive (though they may talk to the kid about the server he's on or something).

Even though it probably happened by accident, Minecraft is pretty kid safe.

I dunno; my son constantly asks me if it's okay to install some MineCraft mod or another (he's been asking less and less because my answer is always "No").

Likewise, chat can lead to bad interactions. "Where do you live?" and "Are you a girl?" type questions. I haven't observed this, but the possibility remains. We've has serious talks with our son about this kind of thing.

I'm not paranoid, but forewarned is forearmed.

Why deny your kid the ability to mod?!? Dude, you're putting your kid in a box by not letting him explore the world of modding. The ability to add something new to your game is a powerful one and I think it can help a kid wrap his head around how a game is working internally. I think part of a parent's responsibilities toward their kid is to encourage the kid to explore the world (in safe ways of course) and I think minecraft mods are probably a pretty safe way especially if you're approving them one by one. You're stifling your kid's creativity every time you say no to one of his proposed ideas without just consideration. Just my opinion.

Well, after the second time I flattened and rebuilt my son's machine because it was infected with mod-carried malware, I was done.

I'd been dubious prior to letting him try them out. It's hard for kids to be safe about downloading things.

Well, that's how they learn. That's probably how you yourself learned it.

Kids need to be able to tinker with computers, and that includes both downloading malware and cleaning the machine including possibly reinstalling it from the ground up. That's how people grow their digital immune system that helps them navigate technology landscape safely.

Constantly fixing everything for our kids will lead to another generation of computer illiterates. This article covers this topic pretty well:


This is just a testament to Mojang's poor mod system. They should have an API that only allows mods to perform safe, sandboxed operations and an in-game mod browsing tool to prevent things like that, especially when such a large percentage of their audience is children.

Unless they add multi-processing to the mod system, they can't. You can't "sandbox" a Java class like that. You can't deny it access to JNI. You can't deny it access to java.io. You can have the host OS do this, of course, but now we're talking something far, far more complex than any mod system ever.

Which is, frankly, an absurd demand.

Mojang should have a mod API, but that won't do diddly squat to improve saftey. Don't execute code if you don't want that code to run.

Of course you can deny it access to JNI [1]. The Java platform has had this built in since forever. This is how applets work. Aside from sandbox exploits classes in Java can be locked down so much that they can pretty much only allocate memory and burn cycles.

[1] http://docs.oracle.com/javase/7/docs/api/java/lang/SecurityM...

Java Applets? That thing that had exploits like clockwork?

Yeah, that worked great

Regardless did you even bother looking at the documentation of SecurityManager? That would be a disaster to try and support. It can't clamp down per-library, it's all about current thread. Mods run in the same thread, they have to. So now you're suggesting that every. single. call into or out of a mod is guarded manually by updates to a permission manager that you are preventing the mod from modifying via reflection through... magic? Yeah, there's no way in hell that would ever work.

We execute untrusted HTML all the time. (And javascript.)

You might argue that HTML is not a general purpose language, and that is exactly true. That's what makes it easier to sandbox.

HTML isn't code, you can't execute it.

And JavaScript runs in a VM designed specifically to handle untrusted code.

Neither applies in the slightest to the Java VM or Minecraft mods which, by definition, occupy the same process space with the same permissions as Minecraft itself. It is not a web browser, it does not have process sandboxing, it does not have a seperate VM specifically for mods, etc...

> HTML isn't code, you can't execute it.

That's exactly a point I wanted to make. See https://www.usenix.org/legacy/publications/login/2011-12/ope... and http://langsec.org/papers/langsec-tr.pdf

To be fair, browsers spend a lot of effort on making sure their sandbox works as intended.

When they have a defined modding API, they could expose it to a scripting language like JS or Lua that's potentially even easier to sandbox, too.

Or, y'know, any kind of API, instead of people overwriting mojang's code.

No kidding. As an API provider, Mojang is pretty terrible.

So give him a VM or image the machine. You have an ability that parents who aren't tech savvy don't.

Do it for him, then.

If that would be too much time, use the FTB launcher; the modpacks there should be about as safe as it gets.

Or, hell, use my modpack at http://madoka.brage.info/, though that's pretty much just TPPI anyway. I'm a random internet person on hacker news; you know you can trust me.

"flattened and rebuilt"

What's "flattened"? Like you stomped on it?

Grats on raising another dumb user.

i always took that quote to mean Minecraft is the Legos of the Digital Age. building blocks used to make pretty much anything you want.. I've played it on PC and think it's really fun. It is amazing what it's doing for young kids and how its introducing them into programming. the last two conferences (JavaOne 2013, Oscon 2014) i went to had a keynote speaker that was 10 or 11 and got started because of minecraft ( and his parents were techies.. )

I remember playing the lego creator game. The reason minecraft caught on instead is the controls are much easier, and multiplayer.

> - We live in Turkey.

Merhaba Bodrum'dan!

I'm reminded of a refrain that seems to be going around recently: the computer revolution is just getting started.

When people today talk of how computers can empower change, often they're thinking about getting better taxi service. In reality, there are entire cultures that have yet to fully engage in the revolution. With Turkey in particular, I am so excited by the possibilities. Turks have such a natural hacker-mindset, it's just that thus far it's been mostly limited to "real-world" hacking. Imagine what can happen when a population that is naturally curious and creative is given tools to effect great change.

At the same time, for this reason I'm wary of Microsoft as the buyer. In many parts of the world, Microsoft successfully monopolized business and personal computing, but even at their highest height they never fully monopolized developer mindshare. Contrastingly, Turkey's developer community was effectively "colonized" by Microsoft such that, if you were a programmer in Turkey it was just assumed that you worked with Microsoft technologies. That is starting to change...and I wonder if that doesn't cause Microsoft some small amount of concern.

I think it's not an exaggeration to say that how Microsoft serves as steward of the Minecraft community will be telling as to whether they've changed their ways, and are willing to be participants in a larger community, or whether they remain the Microsoft of old.

Microsoft is doing alright by the Haskell community. So not all hope is lost for the Minecrafters.

I have two girls, 5 and 8 years old. Minecraft craze started a year ago. Just like you, I bought iPad edition first, and after that I paid for two licenses, so my daughters can play hide and seek inside Minecraft. I was amazed seeing my younger daughter, 4 years old at the time, moving flawlessly in 3D world, hiding from her sister, or building structures.

And just like you, I spent enormous amount of time learning about Minecraft mods.

BTW, I live in Serbia.

My children (ages 6 through 10) had a similar experience to what you described in your comment.

It pretty much sums up why we've banned Minecraft from our house.

EDIT, To clarify:

I fully encourage them to learn to code. We let them use Scratch and write love2d games.

I've banned it from our house because we want them to build real things that they can actually use. We want them to learn how to build furniture and tree houses and real circuits.

I banned it because we want them to live in the real world.


Don't be shy, downvote me if you disagree. It helps me to know just how far off my perspective on life is from that of the average HN visitor. Which in turns helps me to know whether I should just reading/writing comments.

A few scattered thoughts about the parent comment's statements:

1) Your first edit makes it sound like you value hardware over software. I don't think that is your intent, but it confused me for a bit.

2) The implied definition of "the real world" scares me. It seems to be a common cultural thread. It creates instances like this, where parents dismiss interactions in video games as less real than those in flesh and blood. But, in its extremes, it also creates a culture where threatening someone on social media or in game chat is ok, because "it is not real". It creates a weird dichotomy where making a new friend at a bar is somehow better than making a friend online. A lot of pop culture media is currently struggling with the narrow pre-internet definition of the real world. I think that this is going to be an ongoing issue as our lives become more digital.

3) Based on your other comments below, it sounds like, if you had been my parents, you would have banned everything I loved for my entire childhood. My childhood was defined by a series of obsessions up until I graduated high school. A large portion of my early life can be summed up by Legos, Power Rangers, GI Joe, Sonic the Hedgehog, Scooby Doo, Dragon Ball Z, anime, and live theater (think Shakespeare). None of those things have any direct real world application, but they did give me a series of common frameworks for social interaction. "Oh you liked Scooby Doo when you were a kid? Me too!"

4) Based on Edit 2, I would downvote you, but I don't think that is the purpose of downvoting. I don't favor downvoting items that are adding to a discussion just because I disagree with them. Instead downvotes should be reserved for posts that are off topic (to the point of attempting to derail a discussion), incendiary, etc.

1) It's more of a distinction between the virtual world and the physical world. My household values the physical world much more. Call me old-fashioned, but I take my notes on a pen and pocket notebook, rather than an iPhone or text editor or todo-app.

2) I used that phrase out of habit. I meant the physical world as opposed to the virtual world. But even though they're both "real", there are very important differences.

3) Yeah, I probably would have.

4) The fact that there is no official clear purpose for downvoting implies it's up to the community to decide. Which is actually a really cool social experiment on their end, but in practice it's just utterly stupid, and I'm really sick of it.

Before I start, I want to make it clear that I am smiling as I type this. I think this discussion is valuable, and your opinions are valuable. While I disagree with you on many points, I am not trying to insult you. :-)

Responses to your responses:

1 and 2) I guess I'm trying to say that maybe the differences do not matter as much as you think they do. The virtual world is encroaching on the physical world more and more, but in the same way, our lives are sliding into the virtual just as much. Not only does this seem to be inevitable to me, but it also seems like a positive development.

3) I would certainly be a different person! I don't think we can really know which approach was better, but I know that I am enjoying life as I am. I fear that less freedom as a child would have turned me into a bitter, broken adult.

5) It is a cool social experiment! I'm not sick of it though :-)

I might not respond again for a while. There is work to be done!

(edited for formatting)

In short, we totally disagree about everything.

Not surprising, given the # of downvotes I'm getting on here all the time.

Perhaps it's time I break up with HN.

No, stick around. It might help if you wrote slightly longer comments and better explained your perspective, but looking at your comment history, you appear to be an asset to the community (genuine, no sarcasm). It's good on both sides to see truly different perspectives and be reminded that some of the things we take for granted are not universally held.

> No, stick around

I second this, I find sdegutis's comments to be very useful, if only to provide a fresh (and entirely valid) perspective. Contrast is so so needed in our community...

The purpose of downvoting is not clearly defined. Until it's clearly defined, people can and do downvote because they disagree.

The result of downvoting is not simply a karma thing. It actually effects visibility of comments. Downvoted comments do not get any discussion.

Therefore, writing a comment that gets downvoted is a one-way communication channel. There's no benefit in it for me when there is no discussion.

My time is too precious to give away for free. Your time is too precious to waste reading downvoted comments.

So it's in everyone's best interest for people who don't share popular opinion to stop commenting.

That includes me.

I have "showdead" turned on in my HN profile purely to be able to read constructive comments that have been downvoted to death. I agree with others in this thread that there isn't enough variety of opinion in many discussions on HN, and I'm of the opinion that if you are polite, and especially, if you are erudite (as you seem to be) you are most welcome.

I'm saving my downvotes for those who are rude or insulting to others.

You've just had a lengthy, interesting discussion contrasting your unpopular viewpoint with HN's popular viewpoint. So it's not like it can't happen.

This was an exception. My comments generally get downvoted to oblivion and ignored.

This is exactly why some of us value this page over most other news sites.

To me, it seems that the main points of disagreement stem from your religious views. So when you do disagree with others on HN, your choices are:

1. State your disagreement and justify it with religious reasons. Good luck avoiding downvotes.

2. State your disagreement without justifying your reasoning. This comes across as over-assuming and somewhat rude. Also, many people recognize your username and fill in the blanks.

For you, the only way to win is not to play.

Good point.

> Perhaps it's time I break up with HN.

Please do stick around. I do not downvote things I disagree with, not if they're written in the measured and sensible manner that you do it. Many people on HN are like that. Instead they will reply (as they have done here in this thread) with polite replies explaining their own viewpoints.

The only reason to leave is if you actually don't care about reading those.

You deny your children's autonomy because you wish to impose your values on them.

I find that deeply disturbing.

Your choice to ban a fun relaxing game because your children enjoyed it is as weird to me as people who ban rock music because SATANIC SUBLIMINAL MESSAGES or people who ban Elvis Presley because JUNGLE MUSIC or the Scottish cult who banned calculators not because they wanted to improve mental math but because SATAN TALKS TO YOU THROUGH SCREENS.

Children have obsessions - see lists of dinosaurs for one example. And of course they're competive - "zx spectrum is much better than vic 20". It's probably a good idea to remind them that they're not infallible and to encourage a few other interests.

But, your children your choice, I guess.

My wife and I are planning to have children soon. We have thought about this heavily and have considered a non-digital household at least until they are 9 or 10 specifically so we can encourage them to express their individuality. This isn't an easy choice: it is much easier to entertain a kid with an iPad than with a box of Lego's.

My problem isn't so much that digital devices can't be used creatively (we know they can), just that they are too easy for kids to slip into deep passive consumption modes (like say TV).

I'll just point out that a large percentage of my kids' screen time is taken up using the iPads to look up lego instructions online.

That is reassuring. I'm really ok with them having access after early childhood.

It's very hard to do passive consumption with things like Minecraft, and there are definite advantages to learning about computers early.

Instead of blocking off the computer entirely, why don't you instead limit what they can do on it? No, or very limited website access; very few AAA-type games, more sandbox-type games, etc.

> because you wish to impose your values on them.

Yes, we impose our values on them. I call that "responsible parenting".

Maybe disagreement could be indicated with a different way, other than downvotes.

And maybe when many disagree with a post it would actually promote this post because it would be good for discussion.

And still, you're the author of a very popular window management tool. I'm surprised, it seems not to mesh very well with the philosophy you describe. Any comment?

My window manager is designed to be extensible from outside the app, which means my involvement is no longer needed.

This means I can spend all my spare time playing with my kids or reading books.

I hear you, I too wanted to idealize online communication. I have been a member on reddit for 7 years, I wanted to believe it is the new way. But...

With computers, kids wall themselves from a lot of other activities like: riding a bike (ours sit in the garage for weeks), going to the library, meeting with friends IRL, painting, playing music - any and all of a 100 things we did as we grew up.

IRL interaction forces them to get out of their bubble. They shouldn't learn to run away from things they don't like so early in life.

> "3) Based on your other comments below, it sounds like, if you had been my parents, you would have banned everything I loved for my entire childhood. My childhood was defined by a series of obsessions up until I graduated high school. A large portion of my early life can be summed up by Legos, Power Rangers, GI Joe, Sonic the Hedgehog, Scooby Doo, Dragon Ball Z, anime, and live theater (think Shakespeare). None of those things have any direct real world application, but they did give me a series of common frameworks for social interaction. "Oh you liked Scooby Doo when you were a kid? Me too!""

It's not necessarily entirely bad to restrict what your children can do, since it encourages them to find ways to disregard your rules. My childhood was basically 10 or so years of a sort of cold-war escalation between myself and my controlling parents; the end result was me being independent by 17 and a skilled enough programmer to get into and work my way through university by the time I was 19. Controlling parents lit a fire under my ass; it gave me a reason to seize control of my life.

In case anybody is wondering, my relationship with my parents improved when I moved out. We now have a healthy respect for each other as adults.

On the other hand, I had parents who set rational limitations on my activities, while encouraging me to find my independence and explore things I found interesting. They took interest in the things I was interested in, but pushed me to pursue those things on my own.

I also became very independent very early on, because my parents were open with me about the things they did to take care of themselves as adults (they shared finances and budgeting, and included my sister and I in decisions about things like banking, insurance, major purchases, etc), so I knew how to be an adult.

Who knows, maybe this just shows that no matter what parents do, kids figure it out :D

> parents dismiss interactions in video games as less real than those in flesh and blood

But they are. There's a lot less bandwidth in online interactions and it's harder to communicate subtle nuances. I'm sure it's more comfortable for borderline autistics when everything communicated is explicit, but it's not necessarily better for their development.

It's not an either-or proposition here. I was learning to program games and software when I was 10 years old, while participating in sports and doing public speaking competitions. Kids can do more than one thing.

In fact, I think that's why I ended up being a software engineer, and why I love what I do; it may have been something that I loved and enjoyed as a kid, but I did stacks of other activities too so I made an informed choice when I was older. It also helped developed crucial social skills by doing other social activities, and has really helped my career in doing so.

I have two girls, one - when she gets the iPad, she's deaf to us, doesn't hear anything, doesn't clean up her room any more, doesn't want to play with her sister any more, and so on.

The other girl can have her iPad in her room and yet choose to draw, make art, come and speak with us (parents) and still finishes her homework.

So, you see, some kids can't resist the temptation. Other kids can balance them out.

Yes, they have other advantages though. Convenience is a big one. But it also empowers a group to do some activities that are really hard to do in the real world: building things together, acting as a team, coordinating, etc...

In this, my video game experiences were almost always more positive than things in the real world (class projects, sports, ...).

Some info to consider:

When I was a child, my parents banned reading (I kid you not) for mostly the same reasons.

It was horrible; and not in a "now I'm older I appreciate it" way. Creativity, thinking, and passion is not something to lightly try to eradicate from a child.

I will not downvote you, but your post made me sad, and relive a terrible part of my childhood.

My kids have read the whole Narnia series, The Hobbit, and Lord of the Rings trilogy. These almost never come up in their imagination games or other activities or any discussions. Like, at all, ever.

Contrast that with the time I let them play Minecraft for a single month, for only a few hours a day, and only a few days a week. For the entire month and a few following months, it was practically the only thing that ever came out of any of their mouths.

Curiosity: was it forbidden before? I'm wondering whether an earlier ban could have affected their interest.

We have taken to occasionally forbidding our 7yo from talking about Minecraft. Or, on other days, Pokemon. Or, for both at once, Pixelmon.

As someone who grew up in a house like yours (religious, with lots of stuff banned: TV, many books etc) I understand your perspective.

I hope your children quickly learn the lesson I did: Never tell your parents anything - especially about things they enjoy. Parents cannot be trusted and any situation will be made worse if their parents know about it.

You banned it because it's popular and teaches kids to code?

Not even in the slightest.

I was responding to what stuck out to me the most in his comment:

> because the son is mad about it.

> School started today, he's moved to another school this year. The first thing he asked to his news friends was about Minecraft. Then he advertised how PC version is superior to the one on iPad.

> My 2 yo daughter knows what Minecraft is, tells she'll play Minecraft when she grows up.

These stuck out because our children had similar signs of unhealthy obsession. (So did my wife and I for a while.)

Sounds more like an issue with time management at home. A very permissive schedule might be: no games or internet until after 8pm, one hour limit, weekdays only. Weekends, up to two hours total, after family activities, chores, etc.

I suppose I don't totally understand your decision. If your children were equally as engrossed in a popular and technical school sport or club, would you disenroll them from it and cut them off from their peers? Have you found that your children having deep, socially enhancing interests and being willing and able to learn new or advanced concepts to be mutually exclusive?

Things like this can be important to kids, so if you're willing to give it another chance (since it sounds like you enjoyed it, too), I would try incorporating principles of analog circuits into labs for your kids to do in Minecraft, then design a project with them using what they've learned to see if it works the same way in the game as it does in the physical world.

(I haven't played Minecraft, so I don't know that this is possible, but from what I've heard about it, it seems plausible.)

Very difficult (but possible) in vanilla minecraft; much more plausible with mods like Project Red installed.

I totally get it.

A few months back, I wanted to see what the story was with Minecraft, and I had a 16-hour trip. So I got a copy for my Android tablet and played it basically every moment I was able. My whole body ached from the weird position I had to take on the plane to be able to play, but I kept going. When I got home, I deleted it from my tablet. It was too addictive for me.

I'm sure there are some people who can play it in moderation, but I'm sure not one of them. It's an amazing game, but like you I value getting things done in the real world.

Well they would have to talk about something anyway.

When I was at high school age, after changing school, the first thing my new classmates asked me was which soccer club I was a fan of. I find this to be worse (obsessing about clubs) than talking about something like minecraft.

(edit: spelling)

> signs of unhealthy obsession

Most people here probably have an unhealthy obsession with computers and they're going much further in life than people with no hobbies who spend their spare time watching TV

My concern isn't about "how far in life" they'll get. In fact, I'm pretty sure life doesn't have a distance. I'm concerned about their well-being.

It seems overly harsh, and I'm not sure of the rationale, maybe you can clarify for me, but what I understand is that you banned it because it took up too much mental space for them (i.e. they were crazy about it) and because it's not really "productive".

But one is often crazy about the things one love; and it seems harsh to ban something they love. I won't argue you might need to restrict it, but is it really harmful to let them have it a bit? Do you really think harm can come of it? I'm genuinely curious about your answer to this last question.

Let me relate my experience: I used to obsess about a few video games when I was a kid. I don't talked to my parents about it, but then your kids are homeschooled, so I guess they must talk to you more than I did to my parents. I remember spending whole afternoons doing build orders for strategy games. Nothing bad ever came of it. Later, I ceased obsessing so much about video games, which became for of a brain-dead leisure activity; but the obsessive behavior carried over to other topics and I think it helps with my work (I'm doing a PhD). I would in fact be more worried about kids who never learn to go in depth into a topic than about those who take the dive easily.

I understand. When kids are fooling with electronic devices online, they're not active nor really very social. They may be creative and cooperative and that's something.

But contrast playing legos with friends, or playing a ball game, or building sand castles. Those are active, creative and they can be social.

Now, I'd consider a mix of activites to be acceptable; a ban may not be my choice. But I understand it.

Did you ban legos as well ?

Nope. :)

EDIT to add even more courtesy.

No it was a real question because depending on what you dislike about Minecraft, they could be an alternative (except much simpler) or fall under the same restriction.

Another alternative I never see mentioned is Meccano (http://www.meccano.com): a bit more advanced than regular Lego and plenty of bits and pieces to tinker with :)

It's purely about protecting them from obsession. Whenever they play legos, they don't pretend to live in a lego world for months on end afterward.

I remember when my parents tried to temper a particularly deep obsession with a specific video game from my youth. My father was very quick to brand it as "not real life", "anti-social" and "worthless".

Needless to say, attempting to ban the game from my life was unsuccessful, even with scorched earth policies like physically cutting internet cables. Meanwhile, I firmly credit my time on this game as the kindling to my career as a developer. A point which (along with making more at 23 than he did at 45) I take great pleasure in reminding my father of whenever the opportunity arises.

Here's to hoping your kid grows up and finds an annoying and creative way to say "I was right, you were wrong, check out this pile of cash I got"

Being a parent is largely about making the decisions that you think are right to the best of your ability. Give your father a break.

In many years time we'll probably see a Minecraft revival with former child players reinventing it(1): They might even get modding to work.

(1) http://www.midnightmu.com/games_home.php

I think that's probably going on right now, with the Sponge project.

We'll see how it works out, but I'm hopeful.

maybe your father pushing you away from it actually pushed you into it even more, so you better thank him. or send him half that pile...

Ah. Perhaps if there were actual, studied, reported instances of adults who suffered in life because of a childhood obsession, this point would make more sense.

It seems that your entire decision to ban Minecraft stems from your impression that they're "too obsessed" with it and that they shouldn't be spending so much time on something that they are clearly passionate about (studies and research show that passion generates the best workers and innovators!)...

Let's agree to disagree.

Let's not. That's stupid too. Not as stupid as wilfully doing something to one's own children that has a chance to negatively affect their future without even bothering to question oneself, but still pretty stupid.

I am not one of those parents who bases all his decisions on double-blind studies performed at prestigious universities and such.

I raise my children based on my own judgments of what's best for them. And I use my own God-given intelligence and experience to form those judgments.

So no, I will not agree with you. If you do not agree to disagree, then that's your choice. But disagreement doesn't require both parties' content.

> I raise my children based on my own judgments of what's best for them. And I use my own God-given intelligence and experience to form those judgments.

So you refuse to acknowledge that you might be lacking in knowledge and experience in some critical aspects of your childrens' education. And/or you refuse to accept that the conclusions you reach with your limited knowledge, alone, one single human out of billions, might be erroneous and cause harm to your children. And/or you refuse to accept that there might be others out there with more knowledge and experience than you on certain topics. And/or you think God will make everything okay just because you have faith, and the fact that people get raped and killed every day despite their faith does not sway you.

I think that, right there, is the source of your problems.

I pity your children for having you for a parent. For having someone like you be in control of their lives.

I dunno, when I was a kid, my brother and I would play Legos for 6+ hours a day, for days on end sometimes. And we developed such intricate settings and plots that it almost felt like we lived in a Lego world for months. I don't think Minecraft is fundamentally different in that respect.

What if "obsession" isn't the right word? What if you used the word "passion" instead?

I was constantly banned from anything I showed deep interests in. So my childhood life was about hacking through the bans or revolting furiously. I turned out to be _so_ much different from what they expected.

I also was forbidden to choose my own books as well, which resulted me giving up reading. Because I wasn't able to buy any, and I didn't want all that crap they were giving.

I only hope you are doing right things for the right reasons, unlike my parents.

Sorry, could you explain why? Because it soaks up parental time?

I understand the frustration in hearing constant chatter about Minecraft. The amount of energy my kids devote to it is incredible and at times overwhelming.

That being said, the amount of positive coming from their involvement in the game is incredible. Doing any large project requires considerable planning and imagination. "Survival Mode" requires resource management. They develop these skills by doing instead of sitting in a classroom and hearing about them. They read about it because they want to, boosting their reading skills. The run through the whole social scientific process in an authentic way (as opposed to the multi-step process taught in schools). And they even use it as an anchor to discuss other things. My five year old was confused about the word "chest" being used as "things that stores", then the eight year old says, "you know, Chest, like in Minecraft!" Five year old instantly understands. Thats just one example..it happens all the time.

> I understand the frustration in hearing constant chatter about Minecraft. The amount of energy my kids devote to it is incredible and at times overwhelming

I'm more concerned about what affect this has on my kids, not how much it drains me (they always drain me, that won't change).

> That being said, the amount of positive coming from their involvement in the game is incredible. Doing any large project requires considerable planning and imagination. "Survival Mode" requires resource management. They develop these skills by doing instead of sitting in a classroom and hearing about them. They read about it because they want to, boosting their reading skills. The run through the whole social scientific process in an authentic way (as opposed to the multi-step process taught in schools). And they even use it as an anchor to discuss other things. My five year old was confused about the word "chest" being used as "things that stores", then the eight year old says, "you know, Chest, like in Minecraft!" Five year old instantly understands. Thats just one example..it happens all the time.

Our kids are homeschooled, so I understand the benefit of ad-hoc learning. But I won't make that into an excuse to let them obsess over a video game for months at a time.

I would much rather they learn the same skills by building real things in real life. The benefit is that they can actually use these things.

For example, we are teaching them how to garden. They will get to eat the fruits of their labor. They helped me actually chop down a few of our trees, and they helped me saw them into firewood.

Having done these things with them, and seeing opportunities for even more fun activities, I just can't see Minecraft as anything more than escaping the real world for no sensible reason.

I don't see it as an either/or proposition if appropriate limits* are set. My wife (a former montessori teacher) was of the same opinion. After observing how they play and interact, and its impact on other activities, she has come around to the power of the game.

Just sharing my anecdotes, not trying to change opinions. I'm sure there's some actual research out there on the topic.

*time played, game modes, who/where they play, etc.

>Our kids are homeschooled,

Now it all makes sense. You're fitting right into the home-schooling parent stereotype.

Homeschool parent with a different perspective here! Maybe we can agree to abandon stereotypes entirely? It doesn't really seem like a very HN-friendly strategy.

I'd love to hear more about your opinion on what stereotypes I fit into. Please go on.

Sure, I'll bite.

Many people who homeschool do so for religious reasons. The (comparative) isolation from their peers, combined with the tighter control they have over their children's experiences, makes it possible for them to "force" their children to believe in their religion.

Many don't object to this because of the religion itself; it's the fact that the parents are "abusing" their power to keep their kids from making their own choices.

Also, this isn't really a stereotype, but phrases like "eating the fruits of their labor" sound almost Amish. They homeschool, too.

You sound negatively biased against reasons backed by religion.

You also sound negatively biased against parents handing down core values and religious beliefs to their children.

We'll have to disagree about both of these. And anything that stems from them.

Which, in our case, probably means this discussion should politely end here.

My sister is into the next thing beyond homeschooling: unschooling. You are just exposing a stereotype (as she does). My father is into gardening. I am not. Why on earth is it bad to find something you like and stick with it (being obsessed for months?!?... why not let them be into sth they like for years!). Who do you think you are to decide for s/w else based on your guts feeling? IT/Software isn't bad. But people have been believing strange things any time in history and influenced others (with deep, sincere and honest conviction).

I hope your kids just turn out to be fine with it. You are betting on them that they are just like you.

I hope that the ones that get badly affected by your good intension can forgive you (for your strong believes)

> Who do you think you are to decide for s/w else based on your guts feeling?

Their father.

> I hope your kids just turn out to be fine with it. You are betting on them that they are just like you.

I trust they see and will always see that I'm doing my best.

> I hope that the ones that get badly affected by your good intension can forgive you (for your strong believes)

I trust that there is nothing to forgive, and that these hypothetical "bad effects" are all in your own worrying mind.

people, people, there are people just like you and discussion won't change them (never did, never will). Otherwise those ppl/opinions won't exist. But you are just a (controversial) stereotype: Many with your queer thoughs exist, you are nothing special and you offend (obviously). And these ppl think even like "I know better and have just to convince the rest": Go home you are drunk.

I hope that a long going process may start running in you mind based on this/your HN experience.

(poor kids, can't play games ;)

Haha, I read that and thought exactly the same!

>Our kids are homeschooled,

We could tell.

With laser like precision WRT exactly one topic my wife yells at my son when he plays minecraft youtube videos containing non-mom-approved language or highly questionable behavior.

Its important to note the vast majority of lets play type videos are mom approved. Almost all of them. But once in awhile one comes up in rotation that's PG-13 or worse rating wrt language or behavior (serial killing in game pigs while making cop killer jokes and then uploading it anyway, wtf is wrong with you, boy?) (and edited to emphasize, the "big name" video guys are virtually all "mom-approved" the worst behavior and language is usually some goofball one off not a semi-pro show host wanna be)

Unless kids have dramatically changed in the last decade or two I know he's heard worse on the playground, its not the end of the world. Its better than watching TV, for example.

As a new parent and someone who has been through similar "obsessions" as a child, perhaps I can try to explain the sentiment, even if I don't necessarily agree with it.

I imagine it comes from a line of thinking where the parent worries if their kids becomes too focused on one particular thing and spends too much time either doing it, talking about it, or thinking about. The parents may worry that their child's interests are not well-rounded enough. Perhaps "Minecraft time" is taking away from outdoor time, or music time, or sports time, etc.

A total ban seems harsh, but perhaps the child's interest is bordering on addiction and this an attempt to solve that problem (again, I'm not endorsing this, just trying to reason through it).

I know my parents were very unhappy with the amount of time that I would spend playing video games. They often called it an "addiction" and from an adult's point of view they may have been right. Personally, I don't think there's anything necessarily wrong with a child or adolescent immersing themselves in something for a period of time, as long as it's temporary. As an adult now, I certainly don't spend much time playing video games anymore and I see many facets of my life where that time investment as a child has paid off, but I can see where my parents' worries (even if misplaced) were coming from.

No, because it has become an obsession. It's all the ever talked about, all day, non stop, for months. To this day they still play Minecraft imaginations games with each other.

I would rather they learn how to build actual things that they can use. I'd love for them to learn how to build a real circuit or a real tree house, whatever.

I would rather them live in the real world.

> "I'd love for them to learn how to build a real circuit or a real tree house"

Part of learning how to build something is being able to visualize it, prototype it, and understand the key principles.

Professional electrical engineers don't always begin by building physical circuits. They sometimes begin by laying them out in software, refining them in software, and then eventually printing a usable version.

MineCraft is a great way to explore the idea of building. So is lego, and construction kits of various sizes.

Logic gates and T-flip flops can be built in Minecraft. They might not be the same as their silicone counterparts, but understanding how they fit together is an important part of "real" circuit design. I honestly never understood what a T-flip flop did until I got into redstone :)

http://minecraft.gamepedia.com/Memory_circuit http://minecraft.gamepedia.com/Tutorials/Basic_Logic_Gates

Are you saying a child's imagination isn't part of the real world? How about books? The Hobbit isn't 'the real world', either.

You're totally right, The Hobbit is not the real world. Glad we're on the same page. Imagination is just imagination.

I'm guessing this means arguments about how "The Hobbit" has actually changed the life of a lot of people (people who made money from it, people who spent time reading it, people who spent time making a movie, people who spent money on that movie, people who made money from the movie, etc. etc. etc.) or even improved it in some less-measurable way (used in a literature course, philosophical discussion based on the book, inspiration from the story of the book for doing something else in real life or to spark a real life discussion, etc.) will have no meaning for you, since all of this is obsession with Imagination and it's not the Real World.

I mean, my day job consists 100% of putting the right numbers in the right places in a completely virtual system that is entirely meaningless in the real world, that I cannot interact with and cannot use. These numbers don't do anything, they don't change anything, and they certainly won't build a treehouse I can go hide in when my parents get overbearing and obsessively controlling.

However... my day job consists of managing an entire Enterprise Resource Planning system, and the numbers I put in the right place are the resources of this company. The right numbers mean that people looking at them later on will get the right parts at the right time, and build things faster, and eventually clients will have their product on time and at best quality. The wrong numbers... well, 2+ year late deliveries and 2-million-dollar penalties are called "getting off easy" here.

So you see, your idea of what is imagination and useless, and what is "real world" and practical, definitely isn't relevant to the problem. The real question here is: Comparing between a childhood with minecraft, and a childhood without minecraft, which childhood will produce the more happy and productive and overall enriched humans later? And that's not a question about what you, as a parent, consider to be Real World™ or Imagination™. It's a question about what skills and what abilities and what methods of thinking the children will grow up with, and how they will apply and be able to use those abilities later in life.

You're defending abstract concepts, but I'm not talking about that at all.

The problem is about losing yourself to a video game for months on end, even having it take over the other parts of your life when you're not playing it.

Sure you can understand how different these things are? The first one is perfectly fine, the second one is really unhealthy.

>The problem is about losing yourself to a video game for months on end, even having it take over the other parts of your life when you're not playing it.

I could use a script for this, and a variable. Here, let me try:

>The problem is about losing yourself to a job for months on end, even having it take over the other parts of your life when you're not doing it.

> The problem is about losing yourself to military training for months on end, even having it take over the other parts of your life when you're not doing it.

> The problem is about losing yourself to a scientific research project for months on end, even having it take over the other parts of your life when you're not working on it.

> The problem is about losing yourself to [INSERT MANY OTHER PERFECTLY HEALTHY THINGS] for months on end, even having it take over the other parts of your life when you're not [INSERT ACTIVIVTY VERB] it.

The root of the problem is that you single-mindedly see "video games" as something unhealthy to focus on, without any evidence that it even is unhealthy at all!

Where have you heard that video games are unhealthy? Was there any research done? Did you perform long-term experiments? How large was the sample size? What control groups were there?

In short, YOU KNOW NOTHING, and are doing this based entirely on your general impression that video games taking over one's life is more unhealthy than having something else (like school, or work, or surviving in the jungle, or building a tree house) occupy your thoughts.

> without any evidence that it even is unhealthy at all!

I have plenty of evidence. I just haven't felt particularly compelled to spend my precious time conveying it to admittedly skeptical strangers online.

> Where have you heard that video games are unhealthy? Was there any research done? Did you perform long-term experiments? How large was the sample size? What control groups were there?

Contrary to popular belief, not all wisdom is obtained using the scientific method.


I'm not sure why you feel you have the context to make such a bold claim, based on a few comments I posted to an internet forum.

But at least this demonstrates to me that your only goal is to talk and not to listen. In which case, this isn't a balanced discussion, and I'm out.

I could show my priors and show the bayesian inference on them as explanation of why I feel I have the context to make the "bold" claim that someone who is likely to do worse than random is not acting on beneficial information. But then that'd be too scientific, wouldn't it?

Perspective switch:

I've banned "Real Life" for my parents because that's all they ever talk about, all day, non-stop, whenever I'm nearby, for years. To this day they still talk about my "Real Life" and compare it to theirs and play "different Real Life" imagination games with eachother.

I would rather they learn how to do important things where they use their time and mental energy effectively. I'd love for them to learn how to imagine and design and have a project come to life, and see all the steps going from nothing to a completely realized construction, from idea to reality, whatever.

I would rather they don't waste their time hammering away at mind-numbing "day jobs" where they are bogged down by having to do all the manual steps and take care of every little detail and do all the menial work.

I would rather they develop their mental abilities rather than spend all that time repeating trivial actions (like all the repetitive, non-mind-enriching wood chopping required before you can even consider talking about building a tree house in "Real Life").

What I'm trying to say:

There are many advantages to being immersed in something "that isn't the real world", and avoiding menial, repetitive, dumb, costly labor and trial-and-error are some of them.

What you're doing with your ban is simply imposing your view of the world onto them, without having any sort of context as to what their lives will be like in the future with or without this ban, and without even the context of their own minds and what minecraft truly gives them.

The reason it's all they were / are talking about is that it's a whole environment to them, and if they still talk about it it's because they still have things within that environment to talk about.

It's also important to realize that specific skills taught in childhood are almost never as important as general abilities and methodology (except for certain basic required skills like walking, eating, etc.). Learning how to analyze the flaws in a design or creation and how to come up with a more elegant, time/resource-saving solution in general is going to help your children much more over the course of their lives than learning how to specifically arrange planks of wood together so that their floor is straight and solid.

To be completely honest, I think you're making a life-changing mistake by micromanaging your children's time and activities this way. Yes, your role as parent is to guide and educate. You should inform them of dangers, and consequences, and problems, of things they want to do or are doing or are interested about. You should take action whenever it is clear and without doubt that not taking action would lead them to harm... and explain what you did and why to them later! And by later, I mean the next day, not "when you're grown up". However, the key thing to keep in mind is that each time you impose a practical rule that you came up with, you unwillingly make them more like a clone of yourself. You force their actions, and thereby their thoughts, closer to yours, while hampering their own ability to learn about the world for themselves.

My recommendation: Talk with your children about why they like minecraft, what they do in minecraft, and why you think they shouldn't spend so much time in it. And then, most importantly, listen and understand what they have to say about it. Do not dismiss their thoughts. Do not come up with reasons why their arguments are invalid, or assume you have a better picture of the situation than they do. Think about it this way: They have two fully-functional brains, and both of their brains were thinking about this issue way more than you for way longer than you did. Are you ready to claim that whatever short time you've taken to consider the issue before banning minecraft is all you need to overrule two other human beings?

You're telling your daughters, indirectly, that you can make a better decision by thinking for a few days than they can possibly make after months of being fully involved in the subject?

Because this is what they will learn. They will learn that their parent has taken decisions and imposed rules that change their lives because said parent thought about it for a little while and came up with this idea, without asking them. They will learn that you think you know best, at all times, and that you think they are incompetent, and that you think they are incapable of thinking for themselves.

At worst, they may even think themselves incapable of thinking for themselves, and give up trying, and become faceless sponges absorbing whatever your education gives them, without any more personal growth or exploration of their own.

Your tl;dr is unidiomatically long.

I love that he took the time to explain his (deep) perspective to you and all you've got is "you've used TL;DR inappropriately." That's at least a ten minute comment for a fast typist with proofreading, and I could soak a half hour into a comment of that length pretty easily with edits.

The least you could do is acknowledge his point.

Definitely. I just re-read my post and it's obvious I let my thoughts wander way too much for a TL;DR.

And what's wrong with obsessions? Being obsessed/immersed in something is better than not focusing deeply on any one thing.

Do you say the same about the "real world" in regards to programming? Is writing software, web pages, etc. not "real world" enough for you?

For me, at least, writing software is generally a real-world activity because I'm using software to have an effect on the real world.

...As if somehow Minecraft isn't real, running on real circuits, on real hardware, making impressions on real brains.

Question: Are they nearly as enthusiastic about building "real" circuits?

> ...As if somehow Minecraft isn't real, running on real circuits, on real hardware, making impressions on real brains.

It's a virtual world. Our kids were not at all thinking about the Java bytecode that went into running it, or the x86_64 machine code that ran the JVM, etc.

> Question: Are they nearly as enthusiastic about building "real" circuits?

My 10-yo son was thoroughly loving the electronics kit we bought, making LEDs light up in different patterns depending on which SPST switch you pressed.

I guarantee they aren't thinking about the semiconductors in the LEDs, either. They love it because its a system with logical rules that they can experiment on and learn. It's the learning process itself that's the important part, not what specifically they are learning about.

> It's a virtual world. Our kids were not at all thinking about the Java bytecode that went into running it, or the x86_64 machine code that ran the JVM, etc.

And...so? Why is it a bad thing to be able to work at a higher level of abstraction?

Have you considered how you might feel about your children modeling circuits or hardware in minecraft? Disk drives, memory controllers, and calculators have all been implemented in Redstone circuits, which seem to be an even deeper level than most consumer grade circuitry-tinkering lets one do.

Moreover, there's less exposure to solder vapors, no chance of burning, and an ability to undo/redo, not to mention show it off to their friends or to you in a "cool" way.

Imagine how much your son might like it if you were to let him wire up more than LEDs, and instead do things like create a castle or amusement park or train system controlled with in-minecraft circuits.

> no chance of burning

where I work, they let children work with soldering irons too, and at first I very much wondered about the safety of this.

turns out, soldering irons aren't all that hot to do serious damage[0]. the worst they can generally do is a minor first-degree[1] burn wound and a seriously valuable learning experience.

what remains is a chance of fire hazard if they forget to switch things off. this obviously is a parent/teacher's responsibility.

(btw I agree with your general point, this is just an addition, from experience)

[0] unless you poke them in the eye, but there are a lot of objects you shouldn't poke in someone's eye.

[1] it takes some effort to get a second degree burn from a soldering iron, it can be done in theory, by accident, I've never seen it.

yep, a common copout/rationalization for programmers is that videogames etc. are "educational" because your mind starts digesting tech

i am a professional programmer, and see programming time as productive because it is akin to circuit-building, engineering, etc. Even video game CREATION can be that way. But playing them..... I do it, but it is the worst bit of myself -- pretty much total rubbish lazy brain stimulation, on par with TV re-runs

Depends on the game. Portal/2 definitely require some thinking and the classic Mega Man games require focus and quick reactions, for example. Not close to TV re-runs in those cases.

agreed it involves a more active part of your brain in a way -- but i also think it suffers seriously diminishing returns.

even if it involves stimulating puzzles you are still marching through a virtual "to do" list. in a way it can be less stimulating than TV, in that there is often no human element to consider that may trip your mind up. nothing more to think about than the task.

i've been back into gaming for about 6 months, since work really burns me out & i cant always be active at night but im definitely not proud of it, even tho i play puzzle games. if you could just play Portal 2, Braid, w/e for a day or so then walk away it would be fine. But your brain starts getting rewired with habit.

If a parent can spare their kid from that mental monotony, why not?

Portal 2 isn't much better than your average quake 2 run. Doesn't involve any sort of problem solving different from any other 3D game. But the story is kinda funny at least, just like some movies.

Portal: Prelude is a free mod with much harder portal puzzles if that's what you want. Portal 2 did substitute some challenge for atmosphere. I've never done Quake 2 but I know Portal 2 had at least a few good puzzles.

That they were very into it does not sound surprising- The social aspect and the diversity of experience is much more compelling than gardening and homeschooling.

Would you ban them from wearing a favourite sweater?

Is a serious question? I cannot even begin to guess how it's even close to relevant.

Yes, it is serious.

You claimed that one reason you wanted to prevent your children from playing a game was their "obsession".

Children sometimes develop strong attachments to items of clothing. If a child developed a stron attachment to a jumper would you prevent them wearing it? Why is an obsession about an item of clothing different from enjoying a game?

>If a child developed a stron[g] attachment to a jumper would you prevent them wearing it? //

I've prevented one of my children from wearing a favourite jumper (well, hoodie), either because it needed washing or was inappropriate. He likes to wear his hood up all the time and I require him to take it down rather than indulge his desire to not confront his surroundings - namely communicate with other people. He is like I was, afraid to initiate communication and willing to 'hide' to avoid it. But I was always far more fulfilled when I was unable to avoid other people and "forced" to make the effort to communicate; it seems the same with him.

Someone said 'call obsession "passion" and see how it fits now'. Would you call staying up all night, missing work, feeling terrible, ruining your sleep patterns "passion". That's more akin to addiction: I've been on a Minecraft binge recently. My analysis is that it allows me to escape the real world and control my interactions; it's definitely escapism for me. Yes, Minecraft has a lot of potential educational value but I'm very cautious as my personal history with computer games - and other things - has been one of unhealthy obsession.

Veg out with the computer? Well I'll allow that for a short time but to me real world interaction is also far more valuable; I can appreciate the position that sdegustis appears to be presenting. I'll let my kids play for an extended time on the computer/console with a friend, for example, but not by themselves.

It's interesting that the reactions here are similar to the reactions we had when we quit having a television. We have reneged, we now have non-broadcast TV: in part I see that as a failure.

I notice you've set noprocrast on ... a little like denying a child a favourite thing for a while ...?!

/slightly drunken early morning comment

Why did you renege on TV?

Not enough financial resources to do things for ourselves, like engage with new tech, do outdoor pursuits and so on. Living vicariously through others on TV is something we can afford.

Lack of energy and focus in our parenting.

Probably some social pressure is in there too; certainly being able to talk to people about something in the mass media eases social interactions.

Childcare availability - we don't live near family that could watch the kids whilst we go out. Also passively consuming is easier than actively participating; general poor motivation [on my part].

That would be my surface analysis.

I'm talking about a very different kind of obsession. Not the kind where they adamantly refuse to let go of a material possession, although that's bad too. I'm talking about the kind where their mind is held captive for months on end, not free to react to the world around them properly.

Sweaters don't do this. Minecraft has.

I'm with you. My kids don't touch screens, it's bullshit. Everything a child needs to learn or do is doable without computers. They will be at no disadvantage in the world if you don't let them play minecraft -- parenting is all about the precautionary principle.

The most impressive thing for me: I was at the playground with my 2 sons and we started to role play pretending we were superheroes. I said something like: "I'm Hulk", and my seven years old son: "I'm Venon Extreme". Venon Extreme is a guy who has a Minecraft channel in You Tube that has millions of views. This is really impressive. Ah, we live in Brazil.

What is interesting is how Minecraft has been pretty much the only game that people actually pay cash for in the Eastern Europe.

This is pretty amazing since most games and software are pirated.

Of course, people can and do pirate it, but it has a fantastic sell-through that no other game has achieved outside first world.

The popularity among 5-15 year olds is very high.

If Russia counts for Eastern Europe, then the whole Steam catalog is pretty much the only games that are paid for here.


Keep in mind that Russians has much lower income than Western Europeans.

But aren't prices in Russia less than half of those in EU/US? I remember that region locking controversy a few years back, where people bought the cheap eastern European boxed copies over the Internet and found that they wouldn't be able to redeem them from a US IP.

I see you and I answer you much less Internet coverage for Russia and less mature credit card support.

How do you pirate it? The "demo" .jar is the same as the "paid for" .jar - what you're actually purchasing is authentication against Mojang's servers.

You set up a server for yourself and your friends that doesn't phone home to Mojang to verify logins.

Another parent here. This summer, we took the kids to Paris. 10 y.o. son is wearing a Minecraft t-shirt on the street. A group of Chinese kids in a tourist group walked by. They saw his shirt, and I understood one word they said: "Minecraft".

Yep. My Son's done that for me. I haven't played games for more than a decade. So I never introduced him to any game.

He learned about it all by himself around the age of 7 I think, and then started pestering me to buy. I acquiesced. First on iPad, then Mac, and then the XBox.

This game changed my view about games. I don't worry that he is wasting time on it. He seems to learn a lot constantly by playing this game. Everything else he has learned about computers & internet is through Minecraft.

He even got me to build a server so we both could play on a private server. I've played once and then stopped.

He watches videos on YouTube and learns a lot. Now at 9, he wants to build a YouTube channel that has millions of subscribers. When I told him I have 4 subscribers on my YouTube channel, you gave me a pathetic look :)..

My 7yo watches all the YouTube Minecraft stars (particularly StampyLongnose and DanTDM). She wants to try a new mod every day or two, often one requiring a particularly old or new version of Minecraft. I need to teach her how to shuffle mods around herself so I don't have to. This is on Ubuntu.

(Oh, and she has a cuddly creeper that goes "ssssss-BANG!" when you squeeze it.)

I installed my nephew http://minetest.net because this is free software and therefore better suited for learning to hack.

With this deal it is even better suited.

That's 2.5 Instagrams, or 0.33 Nokias. What do you feel, realistic, too much, too little?

Personally I feel this makes (much) more sense than instagram, these guys have a very loyal following, a tremendously strong product and actually make money.

Congratulations to everybody on the selling side in this deal, too bad it had to be Microsoft but with amounts like that there are not too many companies on the acquiring side.

Does anyone know if this was stock / cash / a mix?

edit: this Microsoft - Mojang deal will do more to get people into (games) programming than a million $ adspend by codecademy would

edit2: right now (16:43 my time) microjang.com is still free

Wonder how long it will take before that is a registered domain.

edit: microjang.com is now no longer free.

      Microjang Development (DR is US)
      PO Box 100439
      NY, NY 10163-4668

It feels pretty reasonable to me, unless you think that it's a flash-in-a-pan that will decline fairly soon. If you think it's a franchise brand that will either hold steady or grow, then it's not really a huge purchase price. Mojang has profits of somewhere around $100-150m on revenues of $300-400m, so this values them at 15-25x profits, or 6-9x revenues, both of which are lower than most recent major tech purchases (e.g. Google paid something like 10-12x revenues for Nest). Heck, a 15-25 P/E ratio isn't even out-of-line for an established tech company without huge growth expectations (Intel and Microsoft both trade around 20).

The terms seem pretty generous, though, a completely clean buyout with no requirement that the principals stay for even a little bit.

All I know is that every one of my kids' friends knows about and plays Minecraft regularly. Even girls pay, though not as many. Among elementary school age kids, it's as close to universally accepted/known as you can get. We went on vacation to the beach, and my sons made friends with a boy, and they immediately started talking about Minecraft. The next thing, they are playing on the same server with each other, etc. Same with new friends in other activities like soccer.

Now we're starting to talk about mods or being able to write mods for Minecraft some day. As this young, enthusiastic population of users grows up, they will have a lot of buying power and interest in things like the customizations and programming aspects of the game.

I have 3 daughters, all grade-school age, and they play Minecraft more than I do. We talk about it over dinner and watch YouTube videos about how to build things. I've also seen them make quick friends by talking about it. My daughters have even come to know some server terminology (mostly from hearing me say it while getting their games to work).

It is also a thrill for me, as a parent, to be able to see their young imaginations manifest in a 3D space which I can explore and interact with.

Same here, our kid hasn't touch other games in a long time (first grader).

Agreed. Warner Bros is already talking about a potential movie franchise for Minecraft. Merchandising seems to be going crazy too, I can't seem to turn around without seeing Minecraft posters, dolls, toys, etc. It probably has more long term financial potential than Harry Potter, even ignoring the core piece of software, and Azure could be an excellent fit with the move into providing and leasing servers to players that Minecraft has been dabbling with.

> Merchandising seems to be going crazy too

They're missing a huge market... children's birthday party crap.

I wouldn't be so sure they're missing it, exactly https://www.google.com/search?q=minecraft+birthday+party&saf...

Friends had to pull together party gear from lots of independent sources for that birthday theme. I wonder if Microsoft will be unable to build a merchandising empire thanks to the trademark not being defended enough.

Most of what you're seeing there is hand-made.

Is it a cash deal or a stock deal or both? The release mentions 'dollars' which makes it seem this is an all cash deal. That would be quite something, but since there is no lock-up for the founders it makes good sense that it would be just a cash deal.

It would be a great way to get rid of some Euros that MS has but doesn't want to pay US tax on...

Stock wouldn't be bad though.

For Microsoft stock?

I think it doesn't matter that much. Microsoft stock is notoriously stable for tech stocks, so the difference between an all cash deal and an all stock deal wouldn't be too big after, say, a year or something.

Notch also probably wasn't too pressured to make the sale, so the terms would be understandably in his favor.

I think it would matter a great deal.

If an opportunity to re-invest came along in that window then you'd miss out, microsoft stock is relatively stable but has seen both 'up', 'down' and 'neutral' years where up and down were on the order of 20 to 30%.

On top of that, cash is king, simply put: there is absolutely no uncertainty at all.

Given the option between x in cash and x in stock or a mix or stock and cash you should always go for the cash.

And something a bit less than x is probably still preferable in cash.

Yes, heaven forbid the 2.5B drops down to 1.75B. They'll have to move to the poor house, for sure.

Let me give you a hint: if you ever are in the position to do a major exit get yourself a tax lawyer. Or you indeed might find yourself in the poorhouse after all.

so you consider a 30 % difference negligible because you can avoid living in a poor house?

I want to do business against you. :P

> cash is king [...] there is absolutely no uncertainty at all

2009 was only 5 years ago. Money markets nearly crashed, banks went bankrupt, the Fed printed enormous amounts of money, and BTC was invented. With $2.5 billion on the table, I'd first hire a team of lawyers and accountants, and maybe some lobbyists too... then I'd let MS know how I want to receive the rest of the money.

> On top of that, cash is king, simply put: there is absolutely no uncertainty at all.

Because currency values don't fluctuate at all...


I'm pretty sure that if it is a cash deal that he will convert to Euros to get rid of the $ exchange rate risk. If the deal contains a stock component that's a double risk.

You should always go for cash, unless you are worried about an allay once tax hit.

It wouldn't surprise me though given notch hasn't had a compelling reason to sell so far (no investors, lives a modest lifestyle, it's still minting money like crazy). This appears to be a "too good a deal to turn down" sale, so he probably called all the shots to make it stick.

> lives a modest lifestyle Didn't he just buy /the/ most expensive apartment in Stockholm?

Well, for a centimillionaire. Spending less than 2% of his then net worth (more like 0.2% now though) on his main property was relatively modest. No jets, cars, helicopters, $200m+ London homes.. he seems to spend more time noodling with Dart than spending his money ;-)

Not important, but you probably mean "hectomillionaire" - a centimillionaire would be someone worth $10,000.

No, he meant centimillionaire / centi-millionaire. It's a common term referring to a nine figure net worth.

Centi can designate 100 of something or one-hundredth of something.




I would accept 'centillionaire', because 'centillion' strikes me as a decent way to say one hundred million. A centurion is not 1/100th of an urion.

Apparently 'centillionaire' is already taken http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centillion

"One centillion is a number, which is equal to either 10^303 or 10^600, depending on the system used."

$3.9M or thereabouts. I suspect that it is threads like these that will make Markus more than happy to fade out of the spotlight.

"no requirement that the principals stay for even a little bit"

Principles were already gone. Notch never really worked on the game anymore. He stayed around because they wanted him to.

>> That's 2.5 instagrams. What do you feel, realistic, too much, too little?

I don't think there's the revenue growth potential in Minecraft like there is in Instagram. On the other hand, Mojang made $330 million in revenue and $129 million in profit last year. They can probably hold on to those margins because their sales system doesn't share revenues with retailers or distributors (or Valve, Google, or Apple for that matter).

The interesting question is whether Minecraft has legs to continue selling for ten or twenty more years. I think it might. I know lots of parents that don't let their kids play video games except for Minecraft. When I pick my kids up from school, I always see a handful of kids wearing Minecraft shirts and carrying Minecraft lunch boxes. It could become like Lego--a toy that's viewed as educational and beneficial by parents.

If I was Microsoft, I'd do two things: First, I'd work on performance and clean up the presentation a bit, especially on the loading screens and menus. Second, I'd roll out a service to make it easy for parents to set up a locked-down server for their kids. You wouldn't believe the number of parents who have asked me for help in setting up a Minecraft server for their kid and his/her friends. I finally stopped showing them because it's too complicated for them to keep running. A service that cost $4.95/month and was reputable, simple, and secure could make a killing.

On the other hand, Mojang made $330 million in revenue and $129 million in profit last year. They can probably hold on to those margins

The margin is interesting, because Mojang supposedly paid Notch personally another ~$129m in licensing fees.

If he has managed to sell the company and will still collect such large licensing fees, he's laughing all the way to the bank. If he sells whatever rights he is licensing to Mojang/Microsoft first, however, then their margin will leap up as their expenses are, in reality, a lot less than they seem due to this arrangement.


I'm curious and seems like no one has addressed this. Notch owns the Minecraft ip and it is licensing it to Mojang. Does this mean Mojang( now Microsoft ) will have to keep paying the license?

I'm not sure if you're aware of it, but Mojang recently (within the last year or so) started a service called Realms[1] which is exactly what you mentioned: hosted, invite only Minecraft servers. The only difference is that it's 13.99 a month, although it's cheaper if you do a longer term (3-month or 6-month). It'll let 10 players on at a time, with a 20 player white list. I'm not sure what their current implementation for Realms' backend is, but if it's not on Azure or another cloud provider, moving to Azure would probably cause a decrease in price.

I do agree about improving performance and presentation within the game though. My understanding is that there is a lot of room for improvement.


Mojang already has a service like that - it's called Minecraft Realms.

There are quite a few Minecraft hosting providers that are even cheaper than that, actually. But it would make sense for Microsoft to handle that themselves.

A large majority of this very loyal following are still < 16 years old. If MS play things right and can retain this following in about 5 years time it will be a very loyal following with a huge reserve of disposable cash then this could become a very profitable move indeed.

I see it mostly as a long term plan to move as many people as they can find into the Xbox ecosystem.

edit: downvoted already, new record.

At least I didn't suggest that Microsoft would now have to re-write minecraft in C# rather than in the Java that they love so much there.

Noticing this aggressive downvoting trend quite alot on HN lately. Perfectly valid inoffensive arguments are downvoted just because the downvoter disagrees with them.

I think people get way too bothered about downvotes (myself included). They affect nothing other than color. If someone disagrees with you, good. It means you've taken a stand on something.

I think it's funny how HN likes to think of themselves as free-minded, creative individuals and yet there's a persistent cult of personality around here.

With all due respect, I don't find it particularly relevant what one guy said 6 years ago. I don't care whether he created HN or not. He's no longer an active participant.

I think it's funny how HN likes to think of themselves as free-minded, creative individuals

I'm not!

That was a comment made 2402 days ago, is it still HN's position? HN has evolved quite alot since then.

Unless you've got something newer to suggest otherwise, that's how HN operates. "Downvotes aren't for disagreeing" is an absurd redditism (everyone knows that they are, since upvotes are for agreeing).

It's a little different on HN due to how the comments are hidden quite quickly when downvoted. I frequently upvote people who reply to me but I disagree with, simply because it would ruin the comment chain and hey, they might just be right anyway ;)

I reserve downvotes for rudeness and demonstrably wrong/misleading comments.

I can understand a downvote with a solid reply, but downvote just for disagreeing doesn't add to the discussion, its more of a censorship which should only be used for offensive/misleading comments IMHO.

Personally, I use upvotes to reward new knowledge or an interesting argument in a comment, I don't upvote every comment I agree with, and downvote only if the comment is offensive.

So then the end result is that opinions/comments that a lot of people disagree with will get punished? Seems counter-intuitive if you're trying to have a reasonable argument/discussion/debate about something. It's one thing to express disagreement, but it's completely different to silence + punish someone because you disagree with them.

It happened again. -1 is the new 1 it seems. Pity.

"A large majority of this very loyal following are still < 16 years old."

I believe this to be a mythology that "everyone knows is true" although it isn't.

For similar examples, MMORPG players are all 13 year old boys, FPS players in general are all 13 year old boys, there is a perfect 1:1 mapping between WWII FPS and gaming in general...

I'll admit in public to relax I'll log in with my son and we'll work on the big base and rail system. Better than watching TV together. I find rail work to be relaxing exactly like working on a model railroad (obviously you need railcraft mod for this). I like building vast chemical refineries, like a fully automated system where you dump ore blocks in one side, all mixed together, and via AE and IC2 and compactsolars and all that, ingots of metal eventually plop out the other end. I also like multifarming and setting up automated ethanol plants.

From talking to other parents its very fight club where the first rule is we don't talk about it. Kind of like how legos seem to get played with by dad as much as kids, unofficially, although its a kids toy. Like many I have tried to sneak a lego imperial star destroyer past the wife "for the kids", unsuccessfully. Lego seems very expensive compared to when I was a kid...

I disagree with most of what you said. I don't see Minecraft as "for children" game. It was a game made for the full spectrum of the gaming community and its early success was as far as I'm aware primarily adults. The fact that children flock to this game as much as they do surprised me, but for what I hear from parents and teachers I would bet that a large majority of this very loyal following are still < 16 years old.

> but for what I hear from parents and teachers I would bet that a large majority of this very loyal following are still < 16 years old.

Well, yes, I'd expect parents and teachers to talk largely about < 16 year olds.

I have actually spoken with several people who were neither parents or teachers. What I concluded is that even among the game playing techies Minecraft is no where near as prevalent as is is among children. In addition to that parents and teachers also also talk to parents and most parents know little about Minecraft other than that it is a game their children play.

Of course this is all anecdotal.

Most of my kids' friends see Minecraft as a game for kids. Except for a few minecraft loyalists, they're moving on to "grown up" games like Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto.

It's a small sample size, but I think Minecraft is destined to be a kids' game with a minority of adult enthusiasts. (That's not necessarily bad--Lego and Pokemon fit that description, too.)

With an even smaller sample size of my 14 year old from time to time he grows up to more grown up games, but he keeps coming back to Minecraft. He loves the hackability aspect (setting up servers, installing plugins etc..) to it that you don't get from these other games. Now that he is starting to learn to code I am hoping he will start developing plugins as well.

If MS can nurture the hackers and enable them to create and maybe even monetize their hacks, then it should be possible to keep a core set of fans well into adulthood.

Has your son discovered KSP[1] yet? It's got a great modding community, and would, IMHO, suit a keen 14yo perfectly. It suits a keen 37yo perfectly as well :-)

[1] http://kerbalspaceprogram.com/

They're buying an IP for the future. Attached to that they also get a company with some staff (some of which are excellent at what they do).

If they have a solid idea of how they want to use the IP, it makes sense. It also comes with a massive risk though - it will be very easy for them to "be the guys who ruined Minecraft".

I imagine it will need to be something like "stay very hands-off for a significant amount of time to prove that they didnt in fact ruin it" followed by some way of turning it into a link in and value add for their existing products rather than something that they sell expansions/new stand-alones for.

Something like Minecraft being the Tetris/Solitaire of the 2010s or so? It comes pre-loaded with their OS's, create a great experience on surface tablets etc, trying to turn it into "the new Microsoft gives you cool stuff and makes it open for everyone" to position Microsoft as the open alternative to the more closed environments of Google and Apple?

I dont see how the purchase makes sense from a money-making point of view today - the Mojang crew hasn't proven they can do repeated success with new IPs, but I could totally see it making sense from a holistic point of view - successful integration of Minecraft in the Microsoft universe could add significant value to Microsoft as a whole.

Just a take-over by Microsoft risks splitting the community.

Even if they do nothing else.

Insanely profitable, established and growing viral user base. The valuation feels a little high, but not complete insanity made out of unicorn farts and fairy dust.

It's realistic. Minecraft is this generations pokemon. In fact I think it's bigger. Not only boys but a significant amount of girls play it. Not only does it have cultural value it also makes money (which instagram doesn't)

And personally and culturally, I enjoy intelligent conversations about it with my kids, and "approve" of it (as do my friends with kids) in a way I haven't with other crazes.

I think it's reasonable. Minecraft is one of the most popular games in history, period. That says a lot right there. Add to that the fact that it is insanely popular with kids and teens, folks who will continue to have a strong attachment to minecraft as they get older.

Minecraft makes a crazy amount of revenue at present without very much effort being put into monetization. If MS did nothing other than to offer paid high quality hosting and other basic features they'd bring in even more revenue. If they developed the game more thoroughly, came out with a sequel, more merch, etc, they'd be rolling in cash.

Indeed, Minecraft is the most popular non-bundled game ever.

The most popular version of Minecraft in terms of raw sales is the Pocket Edition which is Android and iOS only, so I suspect MS is seeing an opportunity there.

Regardless of what the right amount of money is, microsoft will screw this up.

Repeating the success of minecraft is nigh impossible, it was the confluence of several factors at the right place and the right time. The best that can be hoped for is good stewardship of the minecraft community and client. Unfortunately this isn't the way microsoft thinks about games or products(see halo), expect a Minecraft 2: Creepers Return, Minecraft 3: the Blockening, etc... They didn't spend 2.5 Billion to steward a community.

How long before they port it to C#?

> How long before they port it to C#?

They won't. They'll just take the C++ ports that already exist (Xbox, mobile) and port that to desktops. Or rewrite the whole thing in C++. While C# is MS' baby, it makes no sense to write a 3D game in it (and for everyone who thinks Unity is C# - it isn't - Mono is just used for scripting).

Minecraft isn't heavy duty graphics, you just need a simple voxel engine. Your game code could be running in python and you wouldn't know any better.

There is quite good reasons not to do everything in C++ if game designers are involved. Unity uses C# for scripting; only the inner graphics engine need be native.

> Minecraft isn't heavy duty graphics, you just need a simple voxel engine. Your game code could be running in python and you wouldn't know any better.

On the contrary, Minecraft is very heavy on the CPU and would benefit from running on native code rather than a managed bytecode based virtual machine environment.

It isn't heavy duty graphics, so you don't need a super strong GPU (it's still quite heavy), but Minecraft is very CPU and memory intensive. Graphics can be fast regardless of the programming language if you unload things to the GPU, but Minecraft requires a lot of CPU side work to prepare the voxel graphics (ie. building GPU vertex buffers, etc from the voxel octree in CPU/main memory).

There are huge potential performance benefits of rewriting it in native code. I don't think that will happen, though.

Here's a recent interesting article about optimizing visibility and minimizing overdraw, in particular for mobile "chunker" (aka. "tile deferred") GPUs. In the end it improves performance but at the cost of even more CPU work.


A lot of that is also just physics, but again the voxels are really quite easy to work with.

Moving to C++ is always a PITA, I hope this isn't an optimization made so early, especially when there are other things to do.

Reasons to do it in C++ - mobile and console is already in C++, so you can unify ports. Can make fancier graphics - it's Voxel graphics right now, but the next Minecraft could look like Destiny while retaining all the sand-box nature of Minecraft.

You use scripting languages to save dev time - Microsoft can just throw more devs at it. They spent 2.5 billion on it - labour is cheap at that scale...

"Minecraft could look like Destiny"... ahahahah. Sorry. That shows an utter and complete misunderstanding as to the attraction of Minecraft. If MSFT did that, they'd kill it instantaneously.

There is a reason why kids prefer lego batman and lego starwars to real batman and starwars.

I'm not saying it's a good idea, I'm saying it's well within MS' way of doing things. It could be fun...

The mods, however, can be quite compute-heavy. Minecraft needs to be written in a reasonably performant language to work.

It still has to be moddable at all; don't throw out the baby with the bath water.

I think Microsoft wants all the 7 year-olds writing their first Minecraft mods on a platform that they sell tools for. Given Microsoft has been cozying up to mono, I wouldn't put it past them to port the game over to a platform they can leverage to get little kids using a free version of Visual Studio.

Microsoft will absolutely screw this up. We shouldn't forget why Minecraft became popular: It was run by one (and later a few) guys who were close to the community. They cared about input and made stuff to be fun. They avoided all kinds of big business/management decisions to taint that or get in the way.

There is no way Microsoft will let it run like that. They bought it because they have plans for it and those plans will likely collide with the interests of the community. Microsoft is big in the gaming console business and struggling in the mobile market. It seems likely that they'll try to use Minecraft to push those markets.

Even if they won't do it immediately I suspect that they'll eventually make Minecraft exclusive to Xbox and mobile. Meanwhile they'll drop or decrease support for systems they don't like, like GNU/Linux, Playstations, etc. Maybe this will be part of a rewrite or a new huge upgrade (which I guess we can call "Downloadable Content" or whatever it is called in the XBox universe from now on).

And Microsoft will put their game guys in charge of it. And those guys speak a different language than Mojang. They don't care about indie and close community. They care about downloadable content and making new sellable releases every 12-24 month.

Have you actually ever spoken to one of the MS games guys?

I have. Granted it was around 5 years ago so things have probably changed, but it was around the time they were launching the XBox arcade dev kit and they seemed very genuinely interested in indie dev and supporting communities.

Meat Boy certainly seemed to come about in that kind of positive environment.

Not saying that I'm 100% confident that MS won't mess up Minecraft. I've never played it, but have always enjoyed following Notch and his epic trip with Minecraft as I was once a starry eyed indie game dev. I also have a young child who I know will be into it. Everything I've read seems like Minecraft totally failed to learn from id software and valve when it comes to modding. And still Minecraft mods are massive.

It blows my mind. It also makes me think that MS would have to try REALLY REALLY hard to mess it up. If Minecraft has been a success with all the hurdles so far, I figure it is basically an unstoppable cultural entity now.

> Everything I've read seems like Minecraft totally failed to learn from id software and valve when it comes to modding. And still Minecraft mods are massive.

I have played it but I'm not really a Minecraft person myself. However as far as I know the modding situation isn't that bad because the Minecraft jar can be easily decompiled. The problem is only the lack of a stable API (which seems to be in development though) which means updates can break mods and other mods can break mods. There also doesn't seem to be an official loader or mod list. Thus people are forced to deal with obscure websites and obscure mod makers.

Mojang is not putting any artificial hurdles in the way of modding. Something which I highly doubt would have ever been possible if it had been a Microsoft company.

This link confirms the Linux version is dead

>There’s no reason for the development, sales, and support of the PC/Mac, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4, Vita, iOS, and Android

They don't have to repeat it. They just bought it.

> How long before they port it to C#?

I beat you there by a while :)

> How long before they port it to C#?

You mean Minecraft.NET Pro?

Instagram was obviously a strategic asset, where Mojang sits in terms of strategy I really don't know exactly. Microsoft and games has always been there, but there's also been recent talk of divesting the games branch. I think one thing is clear which is that Mojang doesn't seem to be a games house that has a reputation of producing consistently successful titles, rather it seems like one indie project blew up and a team was built around that to support and iterate on one single concept. So it really seems clear that they're buying minecraft which is a game that is exceptionally lucrative financially. In the past 24 hours it sold $0.3m which gives an annual run rate of $100m+ for just the game. But perhaps more importantly, it gets huge traction with people of all ages, including kids, and both genders. It's really a cross-over product that sits extremely well with parents. The Raspberry Pi for example is indicative of this, they're only half serious now when they say one of the key requirements is that it has to be able to run minecraft, when this thing is used by kids worldwide in and outside of classrooms. Being able to integrate that with the Microsoft brand is a big deal as you can have an entire generation grow up with positive connotations towards Microsoft, as well as a generation of parents, who know that if their kids will use computers and play games anyway, it'd be great if they'd spend it on minecraft. So I guess it's both highly profitable (though 2.5b is quite steep at 100m annual revenue) but also has strategic value in terms of branding, although I don't yet see how exactly they want to integrate it into their existing games branch.

Integrating with their non-games services seems far more likely. Server hosting, voice chat, mod development, etc can all push people towards MS products.

The Microsoft press release says, "Microsoft expects the acquisition to be break-even in FY15 on a GAAP basis", which means that on a P/E basis, they are valuing $1 of Mojang profit at $1 of Microsoft profit. It's a game studio with 1 hit, so I'd probably only pay half that, but it's within an order of magnitude of what I'd pay.

> but it's within an order of magnitude of what I'd pay.

I take it that is in the hypothetical sense or are you capable of closing $2.5 B deals by your lonesome?

hypothetical :)

... And 1.25 LA Clippers.

> Microsoft - Mojang deal will do more to get people into (games) programming than a million $ adspend by codecademy would

Definitely. And it will get more developers into the MS ecosystem than any Microsoft Certification tests would.

Good buy IMO. Will help drive VR on Xbox and make MS' bet in that space relevant.

It's worth noting that the price Instagram sold for was widely considered insane at the time. Now, it's not such a big price, and seems to have been a smart buy.

Whether or not a tech company is a good investment seldom depends on valuation, and I suspect it will be the same for Mojangosoft

I'm looking at this as 0.5 Marvels

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