Minecraft fans have theorized the world’s humble beginnings since the popular game hit the market in 2011. With millions of players across the world, the Minecraft community has plenty of questions and theories. Some argue that Minecraft takes place after an environmental disaster wiped out the humanoid race, leaving Steve (an outcast villager) to survive with nothing but a pickaxe. Others point to the ambient background music as evidence that Steve is a real person asleep with headphones on and stuck in a Minecraft dream.
While developers may never reveal the true theory, why not craft a delightful, sometimes-scary, block-filled hypothesis in the meantime?
Let’s explore eight legendary Minecraft theories in three major categories:
- Apocalypse scenarios
- Stories of exile
- Silly—but possibly not too far-fetched—hypotheses
Minecraft game theory has become a popular topic of online forums everywhere. Some of the most common—and dark—theories postulate that an apocalypse started it all.
#1 The Post-Sun Apocalypse Theory
If you’ve ever paused to glance up at the constantly-moving skies of Minecraft—hopefully while hunkered down in your glass-ceilinged house, if you’re playing in Survival mode—you’ve probably noticed two things:
- The moon and sun are always directly opposite in the sky
- Everything seems to rotate around the world, instead of the world orbiting the sun
Popular YouTuber spumwack devised a dark, astrophysical theory about Minecraft’s preceding apocalypse—that the world’s inhabitants blew up their previous world, converted it into a sun, and took up residence on their old sun.
It’s common knowledge in real-world astrophysics that stars—including our sun—have a life cycle. As they emit visible light, they slowly use up their energy source, eventually going dark or exploding.
If we assume that the former happened to Minecraft’s original sun, perhaps the inhabitants of the original planet converted the dying sun into a habitable landscape, undertook mass migration to get to it, and turned their former planet into a light-emitting super-star… somehow.
Even though skeptics have questioned spumwack’s theory—scientists don’t currently have a way to turn planets into suns, for starters—perhaps the incident took place in a very distant future.
#2 The Ender Dragon Apocalypse Theory
Endermen are arguably Minecraft’s most mysterious tenants, randomly appearing to rearrange players’ carefully-placed blocks and wreaking havoc on their health bars if they dare approach the tall, black, slender creatures.
Some players theorize that they’re an integral part of Minecraft’s geological history. A common timeline posits that:
- Endermen, an ancient race, was an advanced civilization who explored and built the procedurally generated world that Minecraft player characters call home.
- Once they discovered the End—an infinite series of islands floating in the void—they decided to migrate there, take up residence in the resource-rich wilds, and protect their precious belongings in a hard-to-reach locale.
- The Ender Dragon appeared, terrorizing the Endermen, destroying their portal back to the Minecraft world, and isolating them inside the End.
- Stuck inside the End, starving Endermen began eating the only thing they could find—chorus fruit—and evolved an ability to teleport after solely dining on the enchanted food.
Is it far-fetched to assume that Endermen shaped the Minecraft sandbox world for players to mine, build, and explore? Perhaps. But, is this Endermen apocalypse theory that far out of the realm of possibility? Not at all.
#3 The Great Flood Apocalypse Theory
If Minecraft players brave the waters and dive down beneath the pixelated surface, they’re likely to find at least one of the following:
- Normal marine life, like squid and fish
- Massive sunken monuments and structures
- Unique topographical elements
- Sunken ships
- Underwater zombies
Some players theorize that the vast underwater world of Minecraft suggests a pre-flood humanoid race, potentially drowned out by a tsunami, massive flood, or climate-induced rising waters. Underwater zombies? The former human population. The sunken ships? Their attempts to escape the rising tides. The underwater structures and topography? Their former, non-waterlogged civilization.
While apocalyptic theories can explain away Minecraft mechanics like Endermen and the world’s solar system, they don’t always have a good answer for other game elements. Let’s explore Minecraft’s potential stories of exile.
#1 Villagers in Exile
Some players suggest that the Minecraft world mimics early human civilization—sparsely populated by bipeds, dotted with small villages, and filled with clashing cliques. Pillagers, the crossbow-wielding, in-game enemies who are always looking for a fight, are theorized to be exiled villagers. As the numbers of exiles grew, they banded together to raid nearby villages—and players’ settlements—for resources.
While it’s not an earth-shattering, game-breaking theory, it does explain the villagers’ attempts to protect themselves against their slighted former neighbors.
#2 The Player in Exile
In a similar vein, let’s consider the plight of the Minecraft player character sometimes affectionately dubbed “Steve.” Mostly companionless—at least in Single Player mode—Steve is in an exile of his own.
How did Steve get here, and why is he alone? Players have a few possible theories:
- Perhaps Steve is a lonely pillager, an outcast villager who hasn’t hasn’t yet been accepted by a raiding clan of forest-dwellers. Only history knows what his crime might have been.
- Maybe the Ender Dragon rose from the End and decimated the Minecraft world’s previous tenants. As the Endermen slowly work to rebuild what the Ender Dragon destroyed, they discover a single soul spared from the fiery wrath of their domain’s deity—Steve.
- Steve may have suffered head trauma or memory loss. After running away from the scene, he awakes, disoriented and confused, in a seemingly pristine and resource-rich landscape where a pickaxe is his first key to lonely survival.
The Downright Silly
While theories of grand apocalypses and cruel exile certainly add an air of grandeur to Minecraft’s pixelated world, perhaps players can find the truth in a sillier direction.
#1 The Dream Theory
What if, one random afternoon, you’re playing Minecraft when the graphics change—your player character sits up in bed and yawns after a particularly vivid dream before the game’s credits roll.
While it certainly wouldn’t be a satisfying ending for many players—especially if you were in the middle of your first voyage into the End, or building a grand glass castle suspended over a zombie-filled lake—perhaps Minecraft is all just a dream.
Players support the dream theory with a few salient points:
- The background noise – Where is the game’s music and ambient, sometimes muffled sound coming from? Perhaps sleeping Steve is sleeping with music on, or he needs a white noise machine to drown out conversations in the apartment next door.
- Multiple gaming modes – Some players theorize that Creative mode is a lucid, pleasant, and sometimes eerie dream, while Survival mode is a literal nightmare.
- The End Poem – The End Poem scrolls when players defeat the Ender Dragon. It describes the player’s accomplishments but refers to both the gameplay and the “real world” as a slightly longer dream.
#2 The New Planet Theory
Some players suggest that we should simply take Minecraft at face value—but what does that look like?
Perhaps Steve recently awoke on a brand new, fecund planet, untouched by an autonomous human. There are a few existing residents—villagers, pillagers, monsters, and arthropods—to encounter and a mysterious underworld—the End—to explore.
The world of Minecraft might simply entertain a fantasy. What would you do if you were dropped into a brand-new world with no tools, shelter, or companions?
#3 The Plants’ Revenge Theory
How confident are you that your player character is the protagonist of Minecraft? Not all players believe that the world revolves around Steve.
Some theories explore the idea that Minecraft is the story of a crazed, resource-hungry human seeking to pillage and industrialize a harmonious, natural world. But, how could the plant life—that Steve keeps destroying to make pickaxes, houses, and forges—seek revenge, or hamper Steve’s efforts toward world domination?
Enter Creepers, green enemies that attempt to attack Steve, make him drop all of his belongings, and lose his place in an unnecessarily deep hole he began digging for no reason.
Creepers could have camouflage skin not only to blend in with the landscape before a guerilla attack but also because they’re literally made from plants.
In a procedurally generated world with no dialogue, anything is possible.
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Kotaku. A Dark Theory About the Origin of Minecraft’s World. https://kotaku.com/a-dark-theory-about-the-origin-of-minecrafts-world-1680080846
Sportskeeda. Top 3 Minecraft Lore Theories that Players Should Know About. https://www.sportskeeda.com/minecraft/top-3-minecraft-lore-theories-players-know
Huffington Post. Minecraft Backstory Theories: A trip Down the Rabbit Hole into the Pre-Steve Apocalypse. https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2015/01/19/minecraft-backstory-theory_n_6500852.html
NASA. The Life Cycles of Stars: How Supernovae Are Formed. https://imagine.gsfc.nasa.gov/educators/lessons/xray_spectra/background-lifecycles.html