From OCAU Wiki
What Is Minecraft?
Minecraft is a sandbox game which allows players to build constructions out of textured cubes in a 3D world. It is currently in development by Markus Persson, aka "Notch". The gameplay is inspired by Dwarf Fortress, RollerCoaster Tycoon, Dungeon Keeper, and especially Infiniminer. The game has two variants, Alpha and Classic, both with single- and multiplayer options. Classic includes only the building aspects of the game with unlimited blocks, while Alpha includes monsters and a much greater variety of crafting available, as well as requiring players to mine their own blocks. Alpha is currently the latest release of Minecraft, and will move into beta sometime in September 2010. Minecraft was developed for about a week before its public release on May 16, 2009 on the TIGSource forums, where it gained a considerable level of popularity. It has been continually updated since then.