What the hell is going on in ‘Minecraft’?
No, not ‘with‘ Minecraft. We’re not asking about the reasons for its titanic success – though it is occasionally baffling how far the gravy train appears to have travelled into the underground, dragon-guarded cavern that houses Mojang founder Notch’s (and latterly Microsoft’s) glittering, ever-expanding bank account.
What we want to know is… what is happening inside the game.?
Who is ‘Steve?’? Why is he dumped unceremoniously at the start of each session with no possessions and no hope of rescue? Why is no one else alive? Why is there a moon and a sun, but why do they not move? Why is the geology screwed up? Who are the pigmen? What is the Nether?
Oh, and why is everything MADE OF BLOCKS?
Pondering this, we turned to the Internet, and Reddit, to see if anyone had any theories.
And yeah, they do. Oh boy.
The [Short] Apocalyptic Theory
A certain school of Minecrafters prefers to keep things short and sweet. To whit, TeamCarbon’s entry into one of the many backstory threads on MinecraftForum.net:
“Once upon a time everyone died in the world and only one person remained, Steve. He must now start to rebuild and survive on his own. Short but true.”
Neat, but not entirely satisfying.
The [Longer] Apocalyptic Theory
“Once there was a world…”
OK, this is better — and just one version of a theory which is repeated over and over: Minecraft is a post-apocalypse.
This theory roughly posits that Minecraft Survival Mode begins after an apocalyptic invasion by the Ender Dragon and his minions, who normally reside at The End. The invasion is foiled “but the curse/disease spread upon the mankind and soon nearly all the people were zombies”.
Which is why there were zombies. Then…
The Sceptical Theory
Not everyone is convinced by the apocalyptic theory.
Over at Reddit, Roothorick makes this point beneath another version of the long theory:
“Where are the ruins? You can dig deep, DEEP into the earth — where are the fossils?”
“So much of Minecraft can’t be explained without “the world’s rules are different than ours” handwaving,” he adds. “It’s probably best to take it at face value and move on.”
And yes, naturally Rootherick does have his own theory.
The Dark Sun Theory
In Minecraft there is a sun and a Moon. But while the sun rises and sets, the Moon is always there – and opposite. The Moon does appear to rotate, but it doesn’t move relative to the sun. As described by Spumwack, the only way in which Minecraft makes cosmological sense is if… the Sun is actually the Earth. And the Earth is a paved-over neutron-star version of the Sun. (This black hole idea pops up elsewhere in relation to falling into the void and also in this theory about an energy collapse… Anyway.)
His argument, realistic via Kotaku, is roughly that Minecraft is set in a future where the Sun is dying – and the citizens of Earth are forced to turn the Earth into a sun and live on the actual sun’s cooling surface to survive. Essentially, he says, they swap the Earth and the Moon. And that explains why the sky is the way it is, and why the planet is so dense just beneath the surface.
As he explains in his FAQ section:
It’s All A Dream
A certain line of inquiry in Minecraft theories entertain the idea that the entire game is a dream — and that Creative Mode is the lucid version while Survival is a nightmare:
It’s a nice, neat idea. But unfortunately we’re discounting it on the grounds that it’s about as satisfying as the average fairy tale dreamed up by a six-year-old ‘Frozen’ addict.
The Creepers Are The Good Guys And Steve? Is The Villain
One branch of Minecraft theories (pun intended, you’ll see why) argues that the game is actually about an evil maniac human running around killing plants – and the plant’s swarm intelligence attempting to bring him to justice. Or maybe a type of aggressive funghi or, you know, a personification of jealousy.
Again over at Reddit, Terapinrex argues:
Although JesusofBorg has a good argument against it:
Creepers Are Actually Pigs
That’s right, pigs.
This theory is based on the (canonical) story that the actual Creeper model as made by Notch was a messed up attempt to make a pig. The theory goes on to state that in the game they are actually evolved/de-evolved versions of pigs.
“Height: As they evolved, they grew to become a more forest-dwelling species, or wherever there may be an edible source of plants for that matter. (I also think that a Creeper is a Herbivore, because, well let’s just say it’s not exactly on the cover of Hunting Magazine…)
Camouflage Skin: They developed this because they are often found where there is lots of plants, they need to blend in with their environment in order to hide from predators, or sneak up on an opponent.
Behavior: Creepers live in small herds of up to 3-5, & are very territorial as you probably already know. The reason they are probably so territorial is because if they were passive, I mean with that huge open body area any mob could just run right up & bite the Creeper in half, so it has to be tough.”
It sounds outlandish, but then Waaghboss82 chimes in:
“Then are Zombie Pigmen the souls of ‘sploded creepers?”
Steve? Is A Robot
This theory type argues that the central character in Minecraft is actually a robotic android. Why? Because he can carry 2304 cubic meters of material. He can punch a solid tree and he has an insane level and variety of skills. Also:
“He can also eat an entire rotisserie chicken in…7 bites? (if the chomping sound effects are to be trusted), and, all this in a matter of seconds.”
Over at Reddit, Rlyauzum replies:
“There is only one explanation. STEVE IS BATMAN!”
Okay now you’ve gone too far.
Or Maybe Steve? Is The Only Human Amongst Neanderthals?
This theory starts with the supposition that Steve? is a homo sapiens while the other humanoids in Minecraft, like the villagers, are neanderthals:
“Every humanoid Steve encounters in Minecraft world looks very similar; big nose, monobrow, etc. Steve looks less derpy and can do so much more than they can.”
But from there it gets… intense.
Golden apples cure the plague. Now it all makes sense!
The Great Pigman-Testificate War
This theory is included to illustrate the fact that we have only barely scratched the surface of the Minecraft minefield with this survey of the fan backstory landscape.
Enter the Pigman-Testificate war, by SporeTheSaiyan.
“Long ago,” it begins, “there were 2 great empires that inhabited the Minecraft land: The Pigmen and the Testificates.”
There is a war, and the Testificate villagers were winning. They moved underground and survived, for a time, but then the Testificates found them and were on the brink of destroying them for good. Then they work out how to survive in the Nether, and have quite a nice time, until the Testificates send in a zombie and the rest is nightmarish history.
“This was the beginning of the end. Pigmen were bitten, infected, & their zombie apocalypse had begun! The Pigmen tried to fight back, but eventually, time got the better of them. This foreign virus had gotten so wide-spread, even the sand was highly contagious.”
“The reason the Testificates don’t fight much now, in the present, is because they’ve been living for so long in (somewhat) peace, they’ve stopped teaching their men to fight & they’ve started teaching Iron Golems to do that instead.
“This is the way I see the Pigmen, a once-great empire long-since reduced to ruins & zombies.”
Okay, look, we lied. We didn’t include this story because it’s that much more intense or weird than the others. It’s not. They’re almost all like this – bizarre and funny, and ambitiously odd.
The reason we actually included it, is because it absolutely sums up this pointless, fruitless, wonderful game.
“I guess I need to play more Minecraft?” reads the first comment beneath this last theory, by Reddit user Pikk.
And what other possible conclusion could there be?
Images via PlanetMinecraft and _CreeperGirl