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Minecraft creator Markus Persson, better known as “Notch,” produced one of the most successful video games in the industry’s history. But these days, Persson is best known for his controversial tweets.
Case in point: Persson sent out a series of tweets over the weekend alleging that the right-wing conspiracy theory Pizzagate is real.
Persson’s Pizzagate comments kicked off on Friday evening after the developer turned to Twitter to share his thoughts on the conspiracy.
Pizzagate is a conspiracy theory that alleges Comet Ping Pong pizza restaurant in Washington, D.C., hosts a child sex abuse ring intertwined with the Democratic Party. Hillary Clinton and 2016 campaign chairman John Podesta play major roles in the false conspiracy theory, and the theory itself stems largely from 4chan, Reddit, and Voat threads analyzing WikiLeaks-published emails from Podesta.
“(pizzagate is real),” Persson tweeted. The original tweet has since received over 2,600 retweets and 6,400 likes.
(pizzagate is real)— Notch (@notch) August 25, 2017
Reporter Brian Patrick Byrne later contacted Persson regarding his views on Pizzagate. (Disclosure: Byrne also contributes to the Daily Dot.) Notoriously critical toward reporters, Persson dodged the question on whether he thinks Pizzagate is real, instead arguing that people “are picking one of two sides emotionally in this incredibly insanely huge binary split, much like politics.”
Hi, Reporter. My beliefs are if you mention it your tweet gets a lot of attention, even more than saying punching is bad.— Notch (@notch) August 26, 2017
I feel more like people are picking one of two sides emotionally in this incredibly insanely huge binary split, much like politics.— Notch (@notch) August 26, 2017
Nuance is lost when you're with or against us, and reality is nuanced. If you reject reality, nothing actually changes, you just lose power.— Notch (@notch) August 26, 2017
Ultimately, Persson asked Byrne to tackle Pizzagate point-for-point, instead of condemning the entire conspiracy theory.
Nope. Define it in public, right here. I will reply per point if I have seen evidence for it or not, and if I'm for or against that behavior— Notch (@notch) August 26, 2017
Pizzagate is notoriously toxic, with Reddit banning the r/Pizzagate subreddit and InfoWars’ Alex Jones even apologizing for encouraging the theory. In late 2016, the conspiracy theory led to one North Carolina man storming Comet Ping Pong, pointing his weapon at a worker, and firing his rifle inside the restaurant.
So for Persson to call Pizzagate “real,” even jokingly, raises major concern that the theory may impact the Minecraft community, which is primarily composed of children, pre-teens, and adolescents.
Persson does seem to agree with parts of Pizzagate, according to his tweets. He argues that John Podesta and his brother, lobbyist Tony Podesta, may have used “suspect codewords” in their leaked emails. He also claims that “a list of children (with ages included)” for a “heated pool party” is suspicious in one email, suggesting that there may be credence to some parts of the Pizzagate theory.
Wrong. People are saying there's a lot of suspect codewords including the word "pizza". That place has very disturbing art and social media— Notch (@notch) August 27, 2017
(the HW doesn't allow for extrenal food). Also, a list of children (with ages included) are specified for a "heated pool party".— Notch (@notch) August 27, 2017
Persson also alleges people who are investigating the Podestas and Clintons “keep dying,” further suggesting that “a LOT of people who investigate trafficking or try to expose pedophilia rings either vanish, kill themselves in impressive ways, or vanish from public life.”
The podestas appear very similar to a police sketch issued in connection to the disappearance of a child. People who investigate keep dying.— Notch (@notch) August 27, 2017
The thing people find disturbing about the clintons is how people keep dying around them. Lots of suicides. In addition, a LOT of people— Notch (@notch) August 27, 2017
who investigate trafficing or try to expose pedophilia rings either vanish, kill themselves in impressive ways, or vanish from public life— Notch (@notch) August 27, 2017
More than anything, though, Persson believes Pizzagate isn’t about pedophiles. He points to drugs and political collusion as the real source of the theory.
My guess is drugs— Notch (@notch) August 27, 2017
Yes, I agree. I've said that's an extreme and unfounded conclusion based on what I've seen. I think it's drugs and collusion. https://t.co/Pn4yQo4umv— Notch (@notch) August 28, 2017
Pizzagate isn’t the only conspiracy theory that Persson entertains. He believes the mainstream media is trying to develop a “race war,” one that the left-wing and right-wing are both embracing. And the Minecaft creator proceeded to slam the media for focusing on “actually proven conspiracy theories” like “the Russia nonsense” over Pizzagate.
“And the kicker is that none of this gets reported in the media,” Persson said. “People focus on actually proven conspiracy theories like the Russia nonsense. A very obvious attempt at a race war is being manufactured by the media and the god damned retarded alt-right and alt-left fuel that fire.”
And the kicker is that none of this gets reported in the media. People focus on actually proven conspiracy theories like the russia nonsense— Notch (@notch) August 27, 2017
A very obvious attempt at a race war is being manufactured by the media and the god damned retarded alt-right and alt-left fuel that fire.— Notch (@notch) August 27, 2017
Suffice to say, Persson’s Pizzagate beliefs were met with some highly contentious responses. The Guardian’s Leigh Alexander has since coined the term “gone full Notch” to describe Persson’s fall from grace.
let's call it 'gone full notch' whenever a once benevolent male nerd disappears under the toxic waters of internet https://t.co/EQ1pPERuGV— Leigh Alexander (@leighalexander) August 30, 2017
Did Notch actually just say pizzagate was real— melancholic vanilla (@VentusSanctus) August 25, 2017
Has he finally lost it
Notch: how dare Daily Beast report I believe in Pizzagate.— Alex Griswold (@HashtagGriswold) August 29, 2017
Also Notch: pic.twitter.com/VwRb5d0wef
Others pointed out that Persson has a long history of terrible opinions on the internet, including previously calling for a “straight pride” parade. For them, Persson’s Pizzagate ideas are par for the course.
Minecraft guy complains people are calling him crazy when he's a pizzagate moderate who thinks the campaign emails are about drugs pic.twitter.com/Hz28YCIJy8— Wild Geerters (@classiclib3ral) August 29, 2017
My favorite is when he said people who hate "straight pride" are cunts and should be shot. When people explained what Pride was actually...— Tom Howell (@NiceMrCaput) August 30, 2017
...about, he admited he'd misunderstood and was wrong, but instead of apologizing, he promised not to learn from it because "I'm Notch".— Tom Howell (@NiceMrCaput) August 30, 2017
Fucking of course. Notch is the epitome of stupid goddamn opinions. https://t.co/MCKasDhri9— Gift of the Bad Guy (@SamiAvigdor) August 28, 2017
uug i know content creators are humans with thoughts and opinions but idk when i see people like notch talking im like shut up n make blocks— 蛇姫 (@toycapsule) August 28, 2017
Persson sold Mojang, the studio that created Minecraft, to Microsoft in 2014, and he’s since reported feeling isolated while being rich. His notorious Twitter opinions may just stem from a deeper issue than political beliefs, like alienation from a cold, wealthy world.
Persson did not immediately respond to the Daily Dot’s request for comment.
H/T Daily Beast
Ana Valens is a reporter specializing in online queer communities, marginalized identities, and adult content creation. She is Daily Dot's Trans/Sex columnist. Her work has appeared at Vice, Vox, Truthout, Bitch Media, Kill Screen, Rolling Stone, and the Toast. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, and spends her free time developing queer adult games.