NotchNotch sold Minecraft today.
He put out this statement, and here are a few excerpts:
I’ve become a symbol. I don’t want to be a symbol, responsible for something huge that I don’t understand, that I don’t want to work on, that keeps coming back to me. I’m not an entrepreneur. I’m not a CEO. I’m a nerdy computer programmer who likes to have opinions on Twitter.
As soon as this deal is finalized, I will leave Mojang and go back to doing Ludum Dares and small web experiments. If I ever accidentally make something that seems to gain traction, I’ll probably abandon it immediately.
...I’m also aware a lot of you were using me as a symbol of some perceived struggle. I’m not. I’m a person, and I’m right there struggling with you.
I was sitting in my "satellite office" (P. Terry's) reading his statement, and the song playing in the background was Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" (one of my very favorites). So I was reading, but I also heard this:
Did you exchange a walk-on part in the war for a lead role in a cage?
I know this is going to sound odd for someone who just sold a game for 2.5B, but I've always felt a kind of sympathy for Notch. Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik created Penny Arcade, and it's become so vast that it's hard to even conceive, but it happened over a period of years. The relative speed was tremendous, but not so great that they became unmoored. Minecraft, though, was different. Notch created a tiny thing that became so vast he was almost entirely swept away.
There are certainly people who court fame, who desire everything it brings. For someone who never sought it, though, fame can be incredibly destructive. If anything I did ever became remotely "big", there is no way I could handle it properly. I'm too furtive to stand in the center.
I wouldn't walk away. I would run.
Here's another part of his statement:
I was at home with a bad cold a couple of weeks ago when the internet exploded with hate against me over some kind of EULA situation that I had nothing to do with. I was confused. I didn't understand.
A few weeks ago, someone who said they were a long-time reader of DQ wrote to me. In elaborate detail, he told me that I used to be good but now I sucked, and I wasn't worth reading anymore. I understood that--actually, I share his feeling to some degree, and I've written about that before--but his anger was so personal, like he wanted to punish me with his words.
This was just one e-mail, but man, his intensity shook me. I accepted that when I decided to make a game (seriously, how did that ever work out?) the blog was going to suffer, but I didn't want to stop, so I didn't. I still don't want to stop. I'm just going to write and people can read what they want.
That's a long way of saying that to be in the public eye, even in a very small way, requires a kind of armor that some people don't have. I don't think Notch has it, and I think he was smart enough to understand that and get out before it destroyed him.
I'm not talking about Minecraft as a franchise, or what it means now that Microsoft owns the game (well, here's a one-word comment: ick). I'm just talking about one guy writing code in his apartment late at night, thrilled by what he's creating, not realizing what is going to happen to his life.