By Maximilian Clarke

Minecraft, a unique sandbox game created by an independent Swedish software studio, has beaten rivals from billion-dollar corporates to win the Inaugural Game City award.

Minecraft was the brainchild of Markus Persson, a Swedish entrepreneur who founded the studio, Mojang. Currently employing just 9 staff, Mojang’s phenomenally popular creation trumped shortlisters including an entry by Electronic Arts- who employ 8,000 worldwide whilst turning over in excess of $3bn.

GameCity is Europe’s biggest cultural and gaming festival, and the new prize is intended to recognise innovation within the £3bn gaming industry.

Markus “Notch” Persson, Minecraft developer said: “We’re very excited to have won the first GameCity Prize, especially since the nominees contain some of our favourite games recently. It’s a great honour to be compared to those games. Winning this award helps motivate us to try to make Minecraft the best game it can be.”

GameCity Director Iain Simons added: “The GameCity Prize, like the GameCity festival, is about exploring and celebrating videogames as being at the vanguard of inclusive, contemporary creative arts. As an invitation to everyone to explore and express their own creativity, our 2011 winner is a remarkable achievement. I’m thrilled that Minecraft is the recipient of the first GameCity Prize.”

The GameCity Prize was launched this year to explore and celebrate the very best in interactive entertainment and drive understanding and appreciation of videogames within a wider cultural context.

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