Minecraft PhD

Digging into the popularity and production
of the game that went viral: Minecraft.


My name is Alex Leavitt, and I am a PhD student at the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism at the University of Southern California. I study social media, networked culture, and Internet technologies. You can read more about my research and background by visiting my homepage.


This summer, I'll be continuing a project about Minecraft that looks at the effect of large networks of people online on production in the creative industries. I'm interested in Minecraft because of the rapid rate of its popularity as well as how its current user base of millions affects the game's development, its online information ecosystem, and our understanding of games and game culture.

Sometime this fall, I'm aiming to finish a survey of Minecraft players and carry out interviews with developers, modders, and ordinary fans.

PAX East 2011

In March 2011, I gave a talk at PAX East entitled The Hidden Value of Punching Trees: What Minecraft Reveals About Game Culture (check out an overview of the talk here). I looked at how Minecraft was complementing and challenging years of game culture and development.

PAX Prime 2011

At PAX Prime in August, I'll be doing a similar, revised panel: The Hidden Value of Punching Trees: Minecraft & the Future of Game Culture. This time, I'll be focusing more on the importance of online networks to Minecraft's success.

You can now watch the PAX Prime video on YouTube:

Part 1

View Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.


This summer, I'll be conducting a large survey of Minecraft players. The data I collect and analyze will be presented at PAX Prime and incorporated into articles for academic publication.

The survey is officially live! Take the survey here.


Questions? Inquiries? Doing similar research? Email me here.

You can also find me on Twitter at @alexleavitt.