Mojang and Its Relationship with Communist China

This is my first time writing for CYGO, so first I should probably introduce myself. My name is Liz, and I have a large background in many software-related fields. The experience I have in those fields do not consist of professional experience, but rather practical experience. Even though I have not been hired for such expertise, this is because I am currently not looking to be hired in these fields; I’m only seventeen, after all. Among other things, leaning more conservatively while aiming to be a centrist has led me to believe that free speech is a must in any modern society. I am a big fan of EDM, and I also like a good range of other music genres. Needless to say, the majority of my days are spent in front of a computer screen. Anyway, that’s enough about me, on with the article. (if you want to know more about me you can find me in CYGO communities, usually under the name RailRunner16, my messages are open)

So What’s the News?

I have been playing Minecraft, a worldwide best-selling game by Mojang A.B., for a good chunk of my life. In fact, I have been playing since before the release of 1.6.4 in September 2013. Lately, I have been boycotting the game, for a simple yet different reason: Mojang is trying to kiss up to China’s communist government. You’re probably thinking, “Woah, you can’t just drop a bomb like that”, but I sure can. Ever wonder why they didn’t add sharks in the aquatic update, then added pandas in the next update? There’s your answer. You see, during that time, there was a massive movement in China about the endangerment of sharks. When confronted about why sharks would not be in Minecraft, Mojang made a statement that they had two big reasons:

  1. They didn’t want people trying to ride sharks in real life, or in game because that would be “animal abuse”. What? Yeah, don’t ask me what genius came up with this. Also, the animal abuse statement is funny coming from a game where you burn cows to get food.
  2. They didn’t want kids to go out and try to kill sharks – again, in real life. This reeks of anti-extinction effort, which is okay. However, political issues like this should not affect development. It especially shouldn’t determine whether or not something gets added to the game.

Pandas, Anyone?

As a former resident of Florida, I can assure you that the world would be okay without sharks. However since that is not what this article is about, it is panda time. Mojang decided to add panda bears, bamboo forests, and the especially rare red panda to the game the update directly after the no-shark update. I guess the fact that panda bears are primarily found in China makes it okay to add them, even though they’re in more danger of extinction than sharks. In other words, this is Mojang contradicting themselves on a massive scale.

The Reason

The only evident reason Mojang is prioritizing the Chinese market is because it is so huge. Chinese players make up a massive part of Minecraft’s always-evolving player base. From a business standpoint this makes sense to some degree. However, if the rest of the players were aware of this, and what it means for the game, Minecraft would lose an even bigger chunk of its player base.

The Meaning

You may be wondering, “What’s the meaning of all of this?”. Really, this should be a lesson for any game development studio similar to Mojang. A lesson to keep politics out of your game, even if it does mean you lose a chunk of your player base. It is also a lesson that a game’s content should stay true to the game’s purpose.

Alternatives

If you really want to get on board with stopping this Chinese agenda, you can play Minecraft alternatives. If enough people play alternatives like Minetest, it can really help prove a point to Mojang. That point being that our minds are not butter and we do have a voice that needs to be heard. I personally still love Minecraft itself because it made up a large chunk of my childhood. I won’t stop playing it from time to time just because Mojang decides to kiss up to China. That also doesn’t mean I won’t fight for change. I personally wish to see Minecraft back to the way it was: playful, carefree and non-political.