‹ Alex Wiltshire


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I’ve not been doing much feature-writing lately because of a couple of big book projects, but I’ve done this and that. Here’s a quick round-up of work from the past few months that I’m pleased with.

Fabian Frinzel for Disegno

Fabian Frinzel for Disegno

August 3, 2019

Yesterday my boy came out of his room in the cottage we’ve rented for our holiday in west Scotland. “Dad,” he said. “I finished Spelunky.”

14 years old, GCSEs ahead of him, standing at the very brink between child and adulthood. Voice breaking, sometimes sullen. He still breaks into open affection with a hug, or, more frequently, a joke, but now we feel we’ve earned it. We still tell him what to do, but maybe he needs it less than we think.

“I killed King Yama!” he said, eyes bright. “I shotgunned his hands away so he couldn’t throw skeletons at me, and then threw four bombs at his head.”

I’ve been rather remiss in noting this, but I’m currently working on a new book! Called Japansoft: An Oral History, it’s a spiritual follow-up to Britsoft: An Oral History, which means it’s a set of intimate reminiscences by members of the early Japanese game industry.

Later today I’m speaking at the Bath Children’s Literature Festival about writing about Minecraft.

Books I’ve written about Minecraft

As I put it together I realised that I’ve written about Minecraft in many different ways: creativity-n-biz style features in Edge, practical guides about blocks, entertaining (that was the aim) vignettes about them, designing and explaining builds, fiction-based descriptions of mobs, almost-academic works about Minecraft’s creative culture. And then there’s my work as publishing editor at Mojang, in which I read and edit other people’s writing about Minecraft, from novels to sales blurbs.

So I want to talk about that process for the kids that’ll be there, helping them learn about researching, imagining, and putting words down, and hopefully keeping them actually interested by spicing it with little tips and a quiz.

A couple of quick nods to recent The Mechanic articles. Most recently I talked to Zach Barth about the excellent Exapunks, a puzzle game about coding viruses and using them to hack candy bar recipes and printshop accounts systems so you can publish zines.


What about a puzzle game about writing viruses like Stuxnet, which was designed to attack a very specific kind of industrial controller used in Iranian nuclear centrifuges in order to destroy them? A game about writing programs that unfold, multiply and deploy themselves to make changes to the physical world.

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