We almost never play Minecraft the way it was intended. In its adventure mode, players are tasked with staying alive, fighting zombies, and doing normal video game things. Its alternate “creative” mode, in which you build a world of your own design using simple blocks not unlike Legos, is what we think of as Minecraft. Since the game’s explosion in 2011, pretty much everything has been built inside of it: all of Westeros, a working computer with RAM, a full, separate Pokemon game, and so on. A new video from Vox explores this surplus of creativity, but finds its real focus in the way that it was monetized.
While the imaginary cities and surreal worlds built on the platform attract the most attention, branded spaces were commissioned for movies including The Dark Knight and Tomorrowland. A full thriving industry of Minecraft tinkerers blossomed briefly but bottomed out when Microsoft bought the game and put the kibosh on these branded worlds. It’s hard to imagine something like that running free forever, and anyway it lets these devoted, creative souls get back to making enormously detailed, fascinating digital recreations of Mario 64 worlds.