UNBOXING: $150 Kano computer

I took photos of the cute-looking Raspberry Pi powered Kano computer, which was made for kids to learn how to code their own music, games, and software. Jane and I will hook it up to the TV (it uses any HDMI device as a monitor) and let you know what we think. Read the rest

Interview with Minecraft composer C418

Ziad sez, "I interviewed C418; we talk about Minecraft's early days, the purchase by Microsoft, how the gaming community has helped him become a self-sustaining, independent musician, and creativity in the gaming industry." Read the rest

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Microsoft to acquire Minecraft for $2.5bn

Tech giant Microsoft is to buy Mojang, creators of Minecraft, for $2.5bn, reports the Associated Press.

Launched in 2009, Minecraft is a sprawling, endlessly-replayable "sandbox" game that dumps the player in a randomly-generated abstract world. By exploring, gathering materials, crafting items and equipping their avatars, players can set about surviving hostile fauna, launching expeditions deep into ore-filled caverns, and constructing anything from huts to palaces, and even vast machines.

The phenomenal appeal and success of Minecraft -- just check our archives over the last few years! -- is hard to define, but it's been downloaded more than 100 million times since its inception. Created by Markus "Notch" Persson, Minecraft remains the most popular game on Xbox, and the most popular paid game on iOS and Android, according to the AP.

Yet that word hardly scratches the surface of the blocky world-simulator's Lego-like possibilities, though: a fact hit on by Satya Nadella, Microsoft's new CEO, who said that it was "more than a game."

"It is an open world platform, driven by a vibrant community we care deeply about, and rich with new opportunities for that community and for Microsoft," Nadella was quoted as saying in the press release. Microsoft expects to close the sale by the end of 2014, and break even by the end of 2015.

Microsoft also committed to keeping Minecraft available on all the platforms on which it is available today, including Sony Playstation and cellphones running Apple and Google-based operating systems

"Yes, the deal is real," wrote Mojang's Owen Hill at the company's official blog. Read the rest

3D geology of Britain--all of it!--implemented in Minecraft

Many countries have been surface-mapped in Minecraft, but here's one that goes right down to the bedrock, courtesy of the British Geological Survey: "Glaciofluvial deposits and superficial deposits of mainly gravelly composition are represented by Gravel." Read the rest

Lego wishes it invented Minecraft

"Minecraft is digital Lego," says Lego marketing director David Gram. "We only wish we had invented it." This is mentioned in about the same breath as the phrase "core brand beliefs," a concise reminder why they didn't. Read the rest

"Life in the Woods" mod turns Minecraft into beautiful survival sim

Bored of the sandpit? This all-in-one collection of mods makes it prettier, deeper, and more focused on wilderness survival. [via RPS] Read the rest

Minecraft bans money-making server swizzes

The world's most entitled and whiny gamer community started screwing itself for cash, then creator Notch took it away. What happened next was entirely predictable. Read the rest
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A Talk with Threes App Designer Greg Wohlwend (New Disruptors 74)

Greg Wohlwend co-created the popular game Threes. He talks with host Glenn Fleishman about the joy of success, the burden of being independent, and the problems with parasites.

Drowning in Problems: Notch's surprisingly moving text game

Notch, the celebrated creator of Minecraft, has a new, existential webgame: Drowning in Problems. It's a pretty damned great example of telling stories with interactivity, and how the medium can evoke emotion without resorting to the clumsy trickery of narrative. It takes about ten minutes to play through, and by the time I was done, I felt like I'd gone through a journey that made me thoughtful and reflective about the very meaning of life. (via Mefi) Read the rest

Danish Geodata Agency commissions 1:1 Minecraft replica of Denmark

For the kids! (Thanks, Shi-n0-bi) Read the rest

Renaissance Space Invaders art

Artist Dan Hernandez painted a gorgeous series of frescoes depicting Space Invaders and other vintage game screengrabs as Renaissance and Byzantine art. They're hanging in a show called "Genesis" at the Kim Foster Gallery in NYC. Read the rest

Amazon launches Fire TV set-top-box and game console

Described as a "tiny box you connect to your HDTV", Amazon's $99 Fire TV hits a crowded field, with Roku and Apple already offering nearly-identical products. The difference Amazon touts is more powerful hardware--a quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM--and the claim that it has freed itself from the "closed ecosystems" that reduce the appeal of small set-top boxes to people already renting big ones from cable TV providers.

Amazon Instant Video is the deal, with apps for Hulu, YouTube, Netflix, MLB and the NBA also available at launch. There's a bunch of Amazon Cloud Drive stuff, too, allowing photo sharing and other stuff of scant living-room appeal.

Most interesting, though, is what else is enabled by the beefy specs that Amazon packed into the hipflask-size gadget: it's a game console, with the Amazon Fire Game Controller a $40 upgrade. Each comes with $10 of credit for games, with 100 or so titles available at launch, including Minecraft Pocket Edition and Monsters University.

Games will be cheap and cheerful, with an average price point under $2. This is no PS4, or even a WiiU: expect 20 million free-to-play titles by christmas. Read the rest

Minecraft videos: booming industry with millions of viewers

Glenn Fleishman writes, "Minecraft YouTube videos are fantastically popular, and a core group of producers of these videos have enjoyed a wild ride up the virtual charts. Diamond Minecart, a YouTube channel by 22-year-old Daniel Middleton of Northamptonshire, England, has almost 1.9 million subscribers, and people have watched his videos over 400 million times." Read the rest

Oculus was the future of gaming. Now it’s the future of Facebook.

It would have been DEEPLY satisfying for a beloved Kickstarter to IPO and the best chance we've seen at that just vanished.

Three good Minecraft books

My daughter Jane (age 11) grew bored with World of Warcraft (at least for now), but her passion for Minecraft has not waned after a couple of years of playing it. She and her friends love to create towns with libraries, city halls, apartments, subway systems, farms, and jails. I enjoy playing Minecraft with her, too.

If you are interested in getting started in Minecraft, buy it and start chopping and digging. Get answers to your questions by asking your kids, and referring to YouTube and Minecraft wikis. If that's still not enough, here are a few recommended Minecraft books:

The Ultimate Player's Guide to Minecraft, by Stephen O'Brien. This thorough guide to surviving and thriving in the world of Minecraft was written by a guy who loves Minecraft and has explored it deeply. (The author is also the inventor of the Mypressi espresso machine, which we reviewed on Boing Boing Gadgets. I miss Boing Boing Gadgets.)

The Minecraft Guide for Parents, by Cori Dusmann. This is especially good for parents of younger kids who need help buying and installing Minecraft. It also has good tips on how to play Minecraft with your kids.

Minecraft: The Unlikely Tale of Markus "Notch" Persson and the Game that Changed Everything, by by Daniel Goldberg and Linus Larsson. A compelling short biography of the creator of Minecraft. It's intended audience is probably adults, but most 10-year-olds would have no problem reading it. Read the rest