Jens Bergensten is the lead developer of the one of the biggest games of all time: Minecraft. He took time from his busy schedule to talk to us about his start with game development, his favorite games, and where he’d be without Minecraft.
How did you first become interested in game development?
This happened when I was really young. As soon as I learned you could make maps for Lode Runner on my mother’s Apple II I was sold.
When did you decide you wanted to make a career out of it? What led to that decision?
I never doubted I wanted to work on game development, but I wasn’t always sure I would do video games. I chose to study more computer science because it felt like a safe career choice, and ending up in the games industry would be a nice bonus.
At what point in Minecraft’s history did you become involved?
I was hired at Mojang to work on Scrolls, but at that time there wasn’t much work to be done on the game. I asked if I could help out with Minecraft instead, and Notch really liked the stuff I was doing so I stayed.
When did you first realize that Minecraft was becoming extremely popular? What was that like for your team?
This question is a bit hard to answer, because we were always thinking that Minecraft had reached its peak. But it just kept going and going, and is still going strong.
How often do you play Minecraft? What’s your favorite thing to do when you play?
Once every now and then I have a Minecraft period where I play the game intensely for a couple or weeks. I tend to play survival and building houses is what I prefer the most.
Minecraft is used today by many educational organizations, and Redstone has been used to teach kids electrical engineering. Has this been surprising to you?
Yeah it’s very surprising how widespread the use of Minecraft is. It’s not only engineering, but geography, geology, history, mathematics, languages, and so on.
Are there any mods that you think are particularly awesome?
There are lots of really impressive mods, but I’m not sure which one to pinpoint right now :). I don’t use mods myself.
Have there been any features or ideas that didn’t make it into Minecraft, but you wish did?
I would like to see a better system for large monsters, but the physics gets all weird.
What inspired the Minecraft character Steve? Why Steve?
You will have to ask Notch for the inspiration. I think he picked “Steve?” (including the question mark) as a joke because it’s very generic.
Steve? does battle.
What’s next for Mojang? Will there be any new Mojang titles in the near future?
Minecraft will probably always be Mojang’s big thing, but we are working on other games as well.
What’s the best part about your job now, and why?
The thing I enjoy the most is when I get time to work on the actual game. I’m very busy these days though, such as answering interview questions!
What other types of games do you like to play? Favorite game now?
My favorite genre is RTS, but currently I’m honestly mostly playing Cobalt.
If you weren’t doing game design or coding, what would you be doing?
I’d be homeless and poor.
Any advice for aspiring game designers out there?
Always try to make something that you want to play yourself. Don’t worry if it’s too big or hard, you’ll figure it out eventually.
We’re the #1 online destination where kids and teens learn code, game design, and graphic design. Browse our courses here.
images via Fast Co and minecraftforum.net