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The Minecraft Effect: How the Building Block Game’s Influence Is Growing

Minecraft, the virtual world building block game, is wildly popular with young consumers. Now its major momentum is influencing education efforts, other media, and big brands.

How much do you know about Minecraft? If the answer is “nothing,” study up fast, because this wildly popular virtual game has major momentum, and it’s influencing other media and big brands.

We’ll start with the basics. Minecraft is a video game that lets players build (and break down) virtual worlds out of blocks. Here’s their own description:

Minecraft is a game about breaking and placing blocks. At first, people built structures to protect against nocturnal monsters, but as the game grew players worked together to create wonderful, imaginative things.

It can also be about adventuring with friends or watching the sun rise over a blocky ocean. It’s pretty. Brave players battle terrible things in The Nether, which is more scary than pretty. You can also visit a land of mushrooms if it sounds more like your cup of tea.

It’s simple, and the graphics have an almost throwback, 8-bit appearance. But block-by-block, players build castles, cities, gardens, forests—entire universes. Wired reports that there are more than 100 million Minecraft players and the game has been downloaded onto PCs 19 million times. The worlds currently built by players would cover the surface area of the earth, eight times over. Earlier this year, Microsoft bought the company behind the wildly popular game and in doing so they acquired a “multigenerational success story.” It turns out, parents love the game, and many young Millennials and post-Millennials have embraced exploring the digital Minecraft world, hacking, building, and collaborating in the lo-fi game. Business Insider calls it “this generation’s Super Mario.” Long story short: It’s a big blocking deal.

Minecraft’s popularity might not be understood by all, but it is certainly being noticed. The Minecraft effect is in full swing, and the game’s influence can currently be seen spreading into other industries, and inspiring a big competitor. Here are three recent Minecraft-impacted projects:  


Minecraft has often been called “virtual LEGOs,” so it only makes sense that Lego themselves would want a piece of the virtual building action. Last week, rumors swirled that LEGO could be building a Minecraft rival, called “LEGO Worlds” where players can create and explore a digital universe made with LEGOs. Quickly, LEGO confirmed the suspicions: their Minecraft competitor is currently in development, and already open to players. Like Minecraft, players can explore and build worlds, but of course here they are building with virtual LEGOs. More features will be added over time, and the brand hopes that early access players will provide feedback that will shape LEGO World’s future.


Minecraft’s cultural influence is spreading beyond the toys & games world: HarperCollins Children’s Books has purchased the rights to The Elementia Chronicles, an unofficial Minecraft fan-written trilogy that follows three new Minecraft players as they navigate the obstacles of the game. The books were originally self-published by teen author Sean Fay Wolfe on Amazon, and have been “making the rounds in middle schools across the U.S.” The first of the series is set to come out this July, and the books target kids 8-12-years-old.



Minecraft isn’t just fun to play with—it may also be an excellent learning tool. An initiative in Ireland is providing 50,000 students, libraries, and community organizations with MinecraftEdu, a version of the original game modified for educational purposes. The hope is that the emphasis on problem-solving skills and required attention to detail will transfer into the classroom. Teachergaming, the company behind MinecraftEdu, focuses on “techucational” projects, tapping into the educational potential of modern tech and leveraging it to make learning easier and maybe even more fun. Hey, older Millennials played Oregon Trail in school, why not give today’s kids another video game lesson?