‘PewDiePie’ Effect leads to Minecraft revival

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‘PewDiePie’ Effect leads to Minecraft revival

Bailey Kirkeby and Ahmad Annous

After facing tremendous backlash for a series of controversial videos posted in 2017 — causing him to lose deals with both Disney and YouTube — gaming YouTuber Felix Kjellberg, better known as PewDiePie, was able to revive not only his channel but an entire video game by uploading a simple Let’s Play: “Minecraft Part 1.” 

Kjellberg had a minor comeback after the breakout of his numerous controversies; he battled for YouTube subscriber superiority against Indian record label T-Series, drawing many fans back to his comedic content.  However, his Minecraft playthrough has by far been the most popular on his channel, bringing his subscriber count up to 100 million shortly after he uploaded the 30th episode of the series.  

Minecraft, released in 2009, maintained a reputation as the most creative and entertaining video game of its time for five years, until it was sold to Microsoft in 2014.  After this change, fans began to wane, and the game was labelled as “cringey,” soon disappearing into the hazy fog of cringe culture that blanketed the internet’s lost, obsolete trends.  Now, in 2019, a single playthrough has transformed Minecraft’s bleak fate.  

According to an article by Julia Alexander for The Verge, this revival has been dubbed the “PewDiePie Effect,” a term used to describe creators’ influences on the actual market.  Due to the reception of Kjellberg’s Minecraft series, other YouTubers have picked up on the trend and started playing the game, too. 

Minecraft’s popularity has spread to other areas of popular culture, as well.  Despite being uploaded eight years ago, “Revenge” by Jordan Maron — a Minecraft-themed parody of Usher’s “DJ Got Us Fallin’ In Love” — has been trending on Genius for two consecutive months this year.  

The popularity of Minecraft is apparent at Bear Creek, where some students can be found donning Minecraft-themed attire. 

“I have a full Minecraft toolset at home, including a shield and a Totem [of Undying],” freshman Dominic Baker said.  “I have been playing Minecraft for about five years.  [The revival of Minecraft] makes me feel less left out.  It’s all over the internet, and I’m glad.” 

Other students express similar sentiments and say the game’s resurgence has reduced the stigma that the game is “childish,” allowing them to enjoy the game without ridicule from peers.

“I was 10 years old when I first started playing Minecraft, and I’m glad to see my childhood comeback in such a mainstream way,” senior Edward Seibel said.  “A year ago, it was seen as childish, but I’m happy that it’s now appreciated for the quality game it is and garnering the respect it deserves.” 

Since its release, Minecraft has been consistently updated, and the game developers are still finding ways to integrate more content into the game.  Consequently, some students are now attracted to Minecraft because it is an improved version of a nostalgic game from their childhoods. 

“With a nostalgic love for such a good game, I have come back to playing because I’ve come to appreciate its intricacies much greater than I could as a kid all those years ago,” senior Kade Henry said. 

Although this sandbox video game full of  monsters, dragons, quaint villages and endless caverns had resigned itself to death in 2014, PewDiePie was able to swoop in at the last minute and click “Respawn.” 

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