Minecraft is very well-trodden territory at this point. It's the best-selling video game of all time, subject of countless books and spin-offs. There isn't a lot of ground to cover with it anymore... but there's one thing that just keeps coming up again and again. This is the background behind Minecraft's personal ghost story, a running joke that just won't go away: Herobrine.

Minecraft: How to Summon Herobrine

Long-time Minecraft fans are nodding their heads at this point. Herobrine isn't actually a real Minecraft secret; he's the subject of a piece of online "creepypasta" that's gotten its own sort of weird half-life, thanks to Minecraft's huge community and a particularly notorious streamer prank in 2010. While Herobrine has gotten well-known enough that Minecraft's developers will occasionally make a reference to him, he's never actually been in the game.

Of course, that's what you'd expect me to say. I'm probably in on the conspiracy... or I'm just scared of him. Believe what you want.

Despite his fakeness, one of the most frequent Minecraft searches online is how to get Herobrine to show up in your world. He's become the Sheng Long or Nimbus Terrafaux of Minecraft, but without the thin justification of an EGM April Fool's joke.

The story goes back to one of the creepy "ghost stories" that sometimes shows up on Internet boards like /v/, about some weird event told as if it was somebody's personal anecdote. In this case, an anonymous player reported running into a mysterious character in a freshly-generated Minecraft world, who looked like the default Minecraft Steve with glowing eyes, and who would make strange things like leafless trees. Other players had encountered him, the story goes, and been silenced by the community for unknown reasons. Long story short, Herobrine is the ghost of Notch's late brother, running around inside Minecraft for spooky reasons.

Notch has never had a brother, though, late or otherwise, so the whole thing was clearly fake from the jump. The original story didn't get a lot of traction at the time. What did was an elaborate prank based on it, carried out by a streamer named Copeland in 2010. He did an awful lot of work, and some reasonably impressive acting, in order to make it look like Herobrine was an actual unexplained presence in his game world during a Let's Play. That managed to propel Herobrine to meme status among Minecraft players, many of whom have built him into construction projects, game mods, animations, and fanart.

If you've spotted Herobrine in your game, then the most likely explanation is that you've been pranked. Your password security is bad and a friend or older sibling is messing with you, or maybe you installed a mod that didn't actually advertise that it included a Herobrine cameo. If you see the telltale "Herobrine signs," like leafless trees, sand pyramids in bodies of water, or random towers of glowstones, then someone knows you well enough to know you'd recognize the reference and is counting on you to overreact. Maybe.

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Seriously, one of the most common Minecraft Googles to this day is about Herobrine. (Also, how to make water breathing potions. Incidentally: 1 water bottle, 1 nether wart, 1 puffer fish.) I can only assume there are pixellated avatars sitting around a pixellated campfire right now, telling and retelling the stories of their brushes with Herobrine. Tell us your own wildly fabricated story via our official Twitter, @PrimaGames.