Notch Explains Why Minecraft Is a Man's World

Illustration for article titled Notch Explains Why Minecraft Is a Man's World

It's a simple question: Can you be a girl in Minecraft? Spy Party developer Chris Hecker asked that of Markus 'Notch' Persson, during a fireside chat at this year's GDC. The Mojang CEO's answer is that the iconic blocky look of his hit sandbox construction game is inherently masculine.


Not that the hat-wearing programmer hasn't tried. "I've tried making a girl model in Minecraft," Notch explained, "but the results have been extremely sexist." Now, there are skins aplenty for making Minecraft's human character models look like women and it seemed like Persson was talking about creating a female equivalent to the default Steve.

"Blocky things are more masculine," Persson mused. But, he added that all the animals in Minecraft are gender-neutral, having elements of both in some cases. For example, cows are just cows, not female steer.

In the beginning Steve was a guy, Minecraft's main character is now generally understood to be genderless and simply a template for users to draw on he added. As for changing the right-angled geometry to create curves, Persson explained that he can't see adding rounded shapes to Minecraft. So, the paper doll that Minecraft users dress up in all their imaginative ways is going to be all squares and rectangles for the foreseeable future.



It's bad enough that we assume the ideal model for a gender-neutral body is a male one, treating the female as some variant that can't be done well. There's no problem with representing a gender neutral body as male, but with the female suddenly questions like clothing, curves, and make-up come up.

I don't think this is Notch's fault, except insofar that he exacerbates it with comments like, "Blocky things are more masculine." Hey, we get it. Gendered thinking is ingrained very deeply in our culture. You're the messenger, not the creator of sexism. Still, it'd be cooler if he took the extra effort to be truly gender-neutral in his representations, rather than "gender neutral but kinda masculine, hey, except for those cows lol."