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I recently was in the lucky position to watch three documentaries on video games in rather short succession (Get Lamp, Indie Game: The Movie, and Minecraft: The Story of Mojang). In this trifecta, Get Lamp has to probably be the odd man out, since Indie Game and Minecraft revolve around recently released indie games, whereas Get Lamp presents itself more like a nostalgic retrospection. Still, out of those three, Minecraft, I am afraid to say, turns out to be the weakest - for a variety of reasons.
The movie documented facts and events after Minecraft had circulated the internets, turning out to be a tremendous success and having created an immense fan base. This may be partially due to the fact, that the film was founded through Kickstarter and thus needed some time until it was in the clear financially (I am not familiar with the exact details, though). The thing with Minecraft is, however, that the game is probably the most thoroughly documented gaming phenomenon on the internet (being responsible for numerous Let's Players and game commentators on YouTube) – those videos alone vividly depict the endless possibilities Minecraft has to offer and are able to make you understand why it turned out to be the phenomenon it is, even if you are not familiar with the game itself.
So what does this documentary add? Well, other than Indie Game, which focused on the people behind the games, their relation to what they were doing, and the reason why they did it or do it, Minecraft basically renders Markus Persson as a nice guy who simply lucked out making a game that he thought would be cool to play himself. Period. And then moves on to all the other aspects that are the Minecraft phenomenon – all of which, however, you are able to witness yourself first-hand by using your internet connection. Do I need a documentary to inform me about the existence of The Shaft or Yogscast? Or that Persson founded a company and is working on a new game? The most insightful comments are probably Peter Molyneux's in which he explains why he thinks Minecraft is such a big hit and discloses the fact that Minecraft played a role in him founding yet another game dev studio. Guys, seriously, for having Peter Molyneux, Tim Schafer, and Jonathan Blow (although he just makes a very brief appearance) available for interviews, these are pretty meager yields.
For fans of the game it absolutely may be interesting to see more of the people behind the game (especially 'Notch' Persson – and it is good to see that he has remained a likable, down-to-earth guy, despite being responsible for possibly one of *the* gaming sensation of this decade), for the average gamer or documentary aficionado, however, this might be too little. Where Indie Game was able to tell a captivating story about the minds behind the games, Minecraft is asking the right people the wrong questions and leaves the viewer with an unsorted array of factoids about the phenomenon that is Minecraft.
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