Minecraft: How Did We Get Here?


David Caine and Jessica Clark

Minecraft is a popular video game that you probably have heard of, due to its rise in popularity amidst the COVID-19 pandemic – however, this game hasn’t always been as popular as it is now. One of the reasons it is so popular and loved by fans is the fact that it isn’t like most other modern video games; Minecraft is a sandbox game, meaning there is no specific task you have to do, no levels, no upgrades, unlike your typical shooter games. In Minecraft, you can do whatever you want, whether it is built, engineer, play with other people, fight, vie for survival, or anything else you want. This is what makes it so lovable towards players.

Minecraft has had a long history on YouTube, starting with its release back in 2011. Minecraft on YouTube can be broken down into four eras: Beginnings, the Golden Age, the Dark Ages, and Resurgence, the era we are in now.

When the game initially came out, it took a few years to get popular. Once it got recognized by the public, it entered what many people called “the Golden Age,” ranging from 2014-2016. The YouTubers who made the Golden Age possible were Stampylonghead, Popular MMOS, Sky Does Minecraft, Ibalisticsquid, Ssundee, DanTDM, and Yogscast. They all played a major part in the Golden Age but made different content from one another.

First, there’s Stampylonghead, also known as Stampy. Stampy made YouTube videos about his lovely world in Minecraft. His “lovely world” consisted of his big house, doghouse, mini-games, love garden, and useful buildings. Stampy always started his videos by saying, “Hello this is Stampy, and welcome to a Minecraft Let’s Play video, and another video inside of Stampy’s lovely world.” He was most known for adding five new subscribers to his love garden every video in order to show appreciation. In his world, he also created many buildings and played mini-games with his friends, one of which was Ibalisticsquid.

Ibalisticsquid also went by Squid and was one of the most recurring friends who joined in Stampy’s “lovely world”. When he was in Stampy’s videos, the comments were always about how positive and funny Squid made the videos; he added a lot of character to the Let’s Play. Unlike Stampy’s channel, Squid’s was not family-friendly, however, which got him fewer views and subscribers.

Popular MMOS was another famous Minecraft YouTuber. He played with his girlfriend at the time, Jen, whom he later married, then divorced. Still, they remain friends and often play together. During the Golden Age, they had a few big series: the Lucky Block Challenge Games, Reviewing Lucky Blocks, and Bed Wars with Lucky Blocks. They played with a lot of mods and had incredibly unique content.

Ssundee was known for his popular series in Troll Craft, where he played pranks on his friends in Minecraft to earn points. He played this with CaptainSparklez and Crainer, working with his friends mostly and occasionally posting a vlog.

Next is DanTDM, who had very story-based content, unlike others. He made up stories about a villager named Trayaurus and edited his videos to make it seem like he could understand what the villager was saying. People at the time either loved or hated his content – with very little middle ground in the fanbase.

There was also a group of content creators called Yogscast. Yogscast had two main people: Lewis and Simon. They played with others by live streaming, recording videos, and doing podcasts. This group usually played challenge games and was known for having funny content.
The Golden Age of Minecraft was filled with so many unique content creators who made something for everyone, and many fans love reflecting back on these videos today.

When Minecraft was on the rise, many content creators decided to make Minecraft parodies of popular songs. Almost overnight, songs like “Don’t Mine at Night,” by Brad Knauber, “Revenge” by CaptainSparklez, “Take Back the Night” by CaptainSparklez, “Supernatural Mobs,” by Atlantic Craft, became a hit. You couldn’t walk into school and not hear a parody being sung, with some even still being popular today.

After a few years, mainly in 2017, Minecraft became very unpopular. At this time, it became embarrassing if you played, and people thought you were playing a “children’s game.” Minecraft Youtubers had a tough time gaining views and subscribers, and many quit playing and moved on to other games – or quit YouTube as a whole. The reason for the game becoming so unpopular was due to the rise of a new game, Fortnite. Fortnite is a shooting game where you can build and fight people while being chased by a storm. Many people were obsessed with the game, and it became the new Minecraft. Fortnite was receiving millions of players and streamers, while Minecraft was rapidly declining.

In light of it all, however, some content creators were still able to bring in views. Creators like Ssundee, DanTDM, Stampy, and Popular MMOs still managed to pull through and create content that people enjoyed watching- but Minecraft just wasn’t the same. It was just a shell of its former glory, destined to fall into the abyss that is the recesses of our mind; almost ten years of the game, down the drain.

But suddenly, almost by miracle, the places of Fortnite and Minecraft shifted. Since Fortnite was the only game people were playing, people became bored of it very quickly, and many others came to hate it with a passion. These few people became a few hundred, turning into a few thousand. Suddenly it was Fortnite that was on the decline, leading the way to Minecraft’s 2019 revival.

People started realizing that Minecraft was an amazing game again, even better than Fortnite ever was, and started to re-experience the nostalgia of the game they played as a kid. People got talking, and in March of 2019, a YouTuber by the name CallMeCarson started a Minecraft series on a live streaming website called Twitch. This would also prompt the rise of Twitch, where many creators are now. Carson invited many other big content creators to join him, and SMP Live was born. After his Twitch streams, he would post highlights on his YouTube channel, and suddenly, these videos and streams started racking up millions of views. People started to come back to the game, and just like that, Minecraft’s popularity skyrocketed.

Other creators followed Carson’s lead, one of them being PewDiePie, who created his own Minecraft survival world, raking in millions of views single-handedly. He is now one of the most subscribed-to YouTube channels, with 110 million subscribers. Keemstar, another creator, started hosting a championship called Minecraft Monday, which included creators Skeppy (5.3 million subs), CaptainSparklez (9 million subs), JeromeASF (5.5 million subs), Vikkstar123 (6.6 million subs), Technoblade (7.2 million subs), and many more.

While this didn’t revive Minecraft to what it was, it still grew the hype for the game and led many others to start playing again, as well as some new faces. Creators like Skeppy, Wadzee, Technoblade, Dream, and PrestonPlayz suddenly started racking in hundreds of thousands of views, and soon, that number would shoot to the millions.

A new form of playing Minecraft started, where creators began creating challenges within the game to play against one another. Some notable people doing this were Dream and Wilbur Soot. Dream coded Minecraft to make the game more challenging for himself and his friends. He made it so when you break something, another random block drops. He also coded another challenge so you couldn’t see anything but valuables, so you were traversing the world blindly. Dream was creative with what he was doing which gave him millions of views and helped him become one of the fastest-growing Minecraft content creators. He started his channel in 2019, and now, a year and a half later have over 20 million subscribers.

Wilbur Soot also did these coding challenges, where either water or lava was rising from the ground up. He would play with his friends, with whoever survived the longest being declared the winner.

One day, Dream decided to do something that he thought was a simple move, but in reality, was what brought even more content creators and views to Minecraft. On April 24, 2020, he started a Minecraft survival world with his friend, GeorgeNotFound, similar to what PewDiePie did. For a few weeks, that was all it was, just a Minecraft world with his friend. He started inviting more creators, however, and they all streamed them playing on Twitch. In order, the creators who joined after Dream and George were Callahan, Sapnap, Awesamdude, Alyssa, Ponk, and BadBoyHalo. There were often little skirmishes between these few, but it was purely for fun. Then, everything changed once a sixteen-year-old British boy joined the server, TommyInnit.

Tommy started fighting with the other members, and suddenly, a war broke out. The thing that set this server apart from all others, was the fact that it was scripted. Yes, you heard that right. Once TommyInnit joined the server, it became an improv world, where the members would make a loose script, and the rest was improvised. It was like watching a TV show; you would tune in for that stream to watch what happened.

After Tommy joined, many others came to the server, which ramped up the views greatly. Members Tubbo, Fundy, Punz, Purpled, Wilbur Soot, Jschlatt, Skeppy, Eret, JackManifold, Nihachu, Quackity, Karl Jacobs, HBomb, Technoblade, Antfrost, Philza, ConnorEastsPants, CaptainPuffy, Vikkstar, LazarBeam, Ranboo, Foolish Gamers, Hannahxxrose, and Slimecicle joined – making the Dream SMP what it is today. Their acting is great, and we highly recommend watching the streams…that is if you want to watch people play a block game for hundreds of hours.

These streams were so influential that they even broke world records. Ranboo, who started streaming in November of 2020, is a notable member of the Minecraft community, and already holds over five world records; one of which being the world record for most Twitch subscribers in a single stream, 44,500. For a while, he was the biggest actively subscribed to Twitch channel, with 114,000 subscribers. He is also the youngest and fastest Twitch streamer to reach 100,000 subscribers. As stated earlier, Dream is another one of the fast-growing YouTube channels, gaining over 20 million subscribers in only a year and a half. TommyInnit has also grown extremely rapidly, now having 8 million subscribers on YouTube and 5.2 million followers on Twitch.

Minecraft has had its up-and-downs, but in the end, it has stayed relevant for almost a decade. In the beginning, the graphics were not great, but they have enhanced so much over time. The game is always improving, and adding these kept the game interesting. Minecraft has provided the opportunity for content creators to have a job they love, and share that love with their fans. All in all, Minecraft brings joy into people’s lives, and we’re glad it has stood the test of time and is still the most popular video game to be made.