It’s been almost four years since Markus “Notch” Persson created his own universe – a world called Minecraft, which is currently populated by millions of gamers, a whole lot of Creepers and – when the next major update arrives – wandering herds of horses.
But Notch’s influence extends far beyond the world of Minecraft. In fact, according to readers of Time magazine, he’s currently the second most influential person in the world, ranked above K-pop sensation Psy, Barack Obama, Pope Francis and Neil Gaiman. Notch is placed just behind Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, though it should be noted that 220,907 voters said “no way!” to Morsi being on the list, compared to only 18,694 who voted against Notch. Egypt’s leader has 173,091 votes in favor, compared to Notch’s 156,694.
Megaupload creator Kim Dotcom is in third place, but on Twitter the internet personality was encouraging Time readers to vote for Notch instead, saying, “Vote for Markus “Notch” Persson … He gave us the amazing world of #Minecraft & deserves to win.”
It’s important to point out, since the criteria for Time’s list is often misunderstood, that it is not a list of the best people in the world, or the most important, or the most worthy of praise. Though many geniuses and well-loved figures have found themselves on it, the list recognizes people purely on the basis of their influence in changing and defining the world, for better or worse. Moreover, nominees are deliberately chosen from a wide range of fields and industries, so you’re just as likely to find Robert Pattinson on it as you are to find Vladimir Putin (though neither made it onto this year’s list).
For an indie games developer, Notch’s success has been meteoric, and since its initial release Minecraft has sold over 20 million copies across various platforms worldwide. Last year he won the BAFTA Special Award for his achievements in the field, and the game now has its own annual convention, Minecon.
It’s a list that has featured everyone from presidents to bloggers; fashion designers to chefs; comedians, sports stars, film producers and talk show hosts. Yet icons of the video gaming world have been significantly under-represented until now, and it’s possible that the inclusion and high-ranking of the Minecraft creator means that Time have sat up and started to pay attention to the most recent ESA demographics:
- Over two-thirds of Americans between the ages of 6 and 49 play video games in one form or another.
- 49% of US households own a games console.
- The average gamer age is 30.
- The video game industry generates over $25 billion in revenue annually.
With that in mind, what seems strange isn’t the fact that the creator of a video is on the list of the 100 most influential people in the world, but that he’s the only video game creator on there.
The final list, as chosen by Time’s editors, will be revealed on April 18th, 2013.