Ending an endless game: an interview with Julian Gough, author of Minecraft’s finale

Boing Boing has just published an in-depth interview between myself and Julian Gough, conducted in December – one of the most rewarding conversations I’ve ever had about games and narrative. The first few paras are below: simply click through to read all 4,000 words…

Born in 1966, raised in Galway on the west coast of Ireland, and now resident in Berlin, Julian Gough has been many things: lyricist and singer for cult Irish rock band Toasted Heretic; author of the novels Juno & Juliet, Jude: Level 1 and most recently Jude in London; poet, playwright and polemicist.

Julian and I met around five years ago, when I was an editor at Prospect magazine and he had just won the 2007 National Short Story Award. We’re now both full-time writers and have stayed in touch ever since, sharing a love of genre fiction and video games, fascination in the future possibilities of narrative, and sporadic despair at the state of contemporary literature.

This conversation took place in December 2011, prompted by one of the most unusual commissions of Julian’s writing life: his invitation to write a story to end the indie gaming masterpiece Minecraft in time for its official launch at Las Vegas in November 2011.

Tom Chatfield: So, how did you come to be writing the ending for Minecraft?

Julian Gough: A series of coincidences, like a lot of things in life. I live in Berlin now, and a couple of years ago a friend of mine called Robert Zetzsche organized something called BIG: The Berlin Indie Game Jam. Some people came over for it, and I said there was a nice cafe round the corner from me, so they organized it in the upstairs there: it was a small thing, really.

I met some nice people and saw some games. As it turned out later, and I didn’t realize this then, one of the people I had met was Markus Persson – aka Notch. At the time, he was just a guy in a hat working on a new game. Then in 2011 the completed version of the game was about to be launched in Las Vegas and they still didn’t have an ending, so Markus tweeted a request saying: does anyone know any talented writers, famous would be a bonus.

A couple of people who must have known us both from BIG recommended me, because they had read my fiction. So I got an email which I was not expecting, saying: would you like to write a high quality piece of narrative for the end of this game, Minecraft? Basically you can do whatever you like: surprise me. Which was an amazing, open brief. 

It was only much later that I realized that this was the guy in the hat I had met two years earlier. I don’t know if he remembered me. He just tweeted.

Click here to read the whole interview



One Response to Ending an endless game: an interview with Julian Gough, author of Minecraft’s finale

  1. Jareth Smith says:

    Well I thought Inception was one of the best pieces of cinema in a long time. Much better than the vast amount of dross Hollywood pumps out of its badness machine.

    I get really into my games, been playing for 20+ years, but I wouldn’t call them “dream like” in any way. When you get addicted to a game it’s more a pleasurable rush of joy, like when reading a good book, than going into a dream. Frankly the only feelings dream usually drum up in me are confusion and anxiety. Waking up from them and coming to the fore of your life once more is a delight, whereas I’d rather be playing games than being immersed in reality. My point? Games are escapism. Dreams are not. They’re lousy, disturbing entertainment at best.

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