There is only one piece of written narrative in Minecraft. It happens right at the end, after you've beaten the Ender Dragon. It is about 8 minutes long — almost as long as the entirety of the world record speedrun of the game — and it consists of a scrolling text poem written by an artist named Julian Gough.
Gough got the gig by replying to a tweet put out in 2011 by Minecraft creator Markus Persson: "Are YOU a talented writer (famous is a plus ;D) who wants to write a silly over-the-top out-of-nowhere text for when you win Minecraft?" Gough's friends and fans put him forward, and the rest is history.
But Gough never signed away the rights to the poem, which is an unhinged-on-purpose, bizarre conversation between two unknown people talking about and to you, the player.
The fact that Gough never signed away the rights — despite pressure from Persson, and later, Microsoft — left a rift between the two parties. "I wrote a story for a friend" is how Gough describes it, "but in the end, he didn't treat me like a friend, and I'm hurt." But, as Gough said in a comprehensive 10,000-word story of events (which you can read in full here):
"The contract was for a comprehensive buyout, signing away all my rights forever, which was exactly the thing I’d told Carl [Manneh, former Mojang CEO] that I never did with my work."
But legalese and 10,000-word stories aside, what does this mean?
It means that Gough has the sole rights to the text of the end poem of Minecraft, and neither Mojang nor Microsoft can sell anything to do with that poem. They can't use it for commercial purposes. They can't print T-shirts with it on. Only Julian Gough can profit off it.
Until today, that is, because he's giving it to everyone.
"I wrote the End Poem for Minecraft, the most popular video game of all time. I never signed a contract giving Mojang the rights to the End Poem, and so Microsoft (who bought Minecraft from Mojang) also don't own it. I do.
Rather than sue the company or fight with my old friend, who founded the company and has since gone off in the deep end, I am dedicating the poem to the public domain. You'll find it at the bottom of this post, along with a Creative Commons Public Domain dedication.
Anyone can now play with it. Have fun."
In return, Julian Gough isn't asking for much, although he has opened up his PayPal to donations if anyone wants to say thank you for his work. He also hopes that, when it comes to art, people will consider what they're buying and where they're buying it from.
"Five global corporations should not own all the characters in our dreams," he says. "To fix that, simply make direct connections with the artists you love... You have no idea how powerful you are: how profound a difference you can make, just by doing that."
What do you think of this news? What would you do with the End Poem of Minecraft? Talk to us in the comments (which are a type of end poem, too).