Matt McFarland ’15 Helps Found Minecraft Hosting Company Acixs LCC

Matt+McFarland+%2715+Helps+Found+Minecraft+Hosting+Company+Acixs+LCC

Elizabeth Miller

By Mia Fatuzzo ’15, News Section Editor

Junior Matt McFarland presides as Chief Communications Officer of Acixs LCC., a Minecraft server hosting company that he helped found. Simply put, the company buys large servers for hundreds of dollars from large datacenters throughout the world and then sells smaller pieces of the server to clients. McFarland compares the business model to a pizza sale: “The club buys a large pizza for the average amount of money and then when they get the pizza delivered they divide the pizza up into many slices and raise the price of the pizza to turn a profit. We buy the large server and divide it up like a pizza to make money.” McFarland is responsible for the company’s public image and advertising and marketing in a manner conducive to expansion.  He also works in partner relations, “talking to large media content producers, such as prolific YouTubers and Twitch.tv Streamers, and creating partnerships with them where we give them a certain chunk of our servers in exchange for promotio.” He also maintains the company’s social media presence.

The company, though still young, has experienced impressive growth. According to McFarland, “last September [the company was] estimated to make approximately $2000 in annual revenue and [is] currently estimating annual revenue of $150,000.”

Minecraft is a sandbox (open world) indie game released three years ago that, as of February 2014, has sold over 35 million copies across all platforms. The game allows players to build constructions out of textured cubes in a 3D world. Players can choose between survival mode, in which they must acquire resources and maintain their health and hunger, and creative mode, in which they may build freely, aided by an unlimited supply of resources, the ability to fly, and no concerns about health or hunger. Minecraft has garnered widespread critical acclaim for the freedom it grants players in-game and its “instantly memorable” blocky graphics, according to IGN Review. It has spawned a convention, called MineCon, a Lego set, and millions of related internet videos. McFarland believes the game is so popular because of its superficial simplicity – “Really anyone at any age can play it” – and underlying intricacy – “There is also an insane amount of complexity that you can get into within the game that keeps those wanting to delve into the mechanics of the game coming back.”

The possible practical and educational applications of Minecraft are often discussed. In 2012, a member of the Human Dynamics group at the MIT Media Lab emphasized the Computer-Aided Design aspect of Minecraft, while the developer of Minecraft, in cooperation with UN Habitat, began the Block by Block project to create real-world environments in Minecraft. Acixs currently runs the MinecraftInClass program, which strives to use the program as an instructive tool for teaching anything from computer science (constructing an 8bit computer within the game) to paleontology (uncovering bones within Minecraft) to environmentalism (attempting to grow crops with a scare amount of water). The initiative is paralleled by a contest in which people can enter to win a free Nexus 7 Tablet.

McFarland became intrigued with Minecraft, then still in its “Alpha”, or development, stage, in the seventh grade when searching on the internet for fun games to play. After trying a free version of the game, he was hooked. He purchased the full version of the game once it was made available, and has been playing ever since.

Last July, while hanging out on one of the gaming server’s teamspeak3 channels (teamspeak3 is a mode of communication similar to voice chat on Skype), Matt heard several of his friends talking about launching a server hosting company. McFarland offered to bring in partners and work to expand the company in exchange for the opportunity to help found the company. McFarland and his friends founded the company in September.

McFarland emphasizes the importance of independence and ability in the technological world, explaining that you can “look up [a] tutorial on Google or YouTube and teach yourself how to do all of these really cool things and soon enough you will be the person everyone else comes to when they have a question.” He also urges those looking to get involved to “Just go for it: Don’t be scared that what you do might fail or that someone will make fun of you for trying. Instead just use that as a sort of fuel to push [yourself] even higher.”