Microsoft & Minecraft

Sometimes 140 characters isn’t quite enough to have a nuanced back & forth.

A few minutes ago I tweeted that the more I think about it, the more I think that Microsoft buying Minecraft is an incredible, incredible (and surprising) move by Satya Nadella that is very very long range in thinking.

I got some pushback in my Twitter stream that says Microsoft doesn’t need another game franchise, has a strong Xbox line, etc etc.

But here’s the thing: Minecraft is less like Halo, and a lot more like Lego. It’s not a game, any more than Lego is just a toy. It’s cultural, and foundational.

When I talk with just about any techie maker that I know today, then can remember back to when they first started playing around with how things work, with how to make their own new things. People in my generation can remember, vividly, when they started playing D&D and how they built those worlds. How they set up their little Lego guys in all sorts of scenarios. And what computer they typed (copied, generally) their first program into. The generation after mine remembers that, but built on the web & Netscape. The newest generation can tell you about their first mobile app building experience.

So here’s the thing: the next generation of makers — 5 or 10 years down the road — they’re all building worlds in Minecraft today. Just look around. Watch what the most interesting kids around are getting obsessed about. Take a look at what they’re building, and the levels of complexity they’re grappling with before they even really can grok what they’re making.

They’re next.

And Microsoft buying Minecraft — and, hopefully, investing in Minecraft in a way that also lets it stay independent and vibrant — says, very clearly, that Microsoft wants to stand, again, with the makers.

Lots of reasons to be skeptical, cynical, pessimistic, or whatever. And anyone who knows me or my background knows that I’ve been very skeptical of, if not combative with, Microsoft through most of my career.

But with this move, Microsoft is saying they are with the makers — the next generation — and that’s a smart, wondrous, and optimistic start to Satya’s leadership there, seems to me.

(image CC licensed. Some rights reserved.)

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