A few months ago my boys (9 and 6) got into Minecraft. My older son had been talking about it for longer than that, and then we discovered the mobile version and dove right in. They’re still hooked and so am I. It’s a fantastic game–but more than that it’s a place that we can get together and create. They build all kinds of amazing things and then show them to me after. The creativity blows me away. They love games with points, rewards, physical toy tie-ins and all the trappings of what’s commonplace in mobile games today, but they always go back to Minecraft.
For Xmas, I bought the boys an iMac. One of the main reasons was so we could get the full version of Minecraft (b/c the mobile one is missing a lot). And they love it. They’re exploring, trying new things, building crazy stuff. If they’re going to spend time on a computer, I’m always pleased when it’s Minecraft vs. something mindless.
As I dove into the world if Minecraft (and yes, I realize I’m a few years behind the curve here), I picked up the book Minecraft: The Unlikely Tale of Markus “Notch” Persson and the Game that Changed Everything. It’s not the best-written book ever, but it was a great deep dive into how the game came into existence and the story of its creator and the company that formed thereafter.
One of the parts that stuck out the most for me was a discussion around the use of Minecraft in education. Turns out a couple guys started using Minecraft in schools and it had a positive impact on the kids. These guys then formed a company and have been developing a product/service around Minecraft for education. (It has the support of Minecraft’s founder and Mojango too.) You can check it out at: http://minecraftedu.com.
To me this sounds like an awesome idea.
I see the potential for Minecraft to teach a lot and inspire creativity at the same time. And it’s already insanely popular with kids. Without any real marketing that I’ve seen (it’s not like there’s a Minecraft TV show, commercials, etc.) Minecraft remains one of the top things that my kids talk about. Every day my older son comes home and he’s talking about discussions he’s had with friends about Minecraft. In his art class (where he was with older kids between the ages of 12-15), they would paint pictures of Minecraft, or at least sneak creepers into the nature landscapes they were painting. It has an amazing, but in my mind, mostly positive affect. The only downside is that the kids obsess over more time on the computer, which is always a challenge for parents.
Minecraft has scientific elements in it (how to craft things, how things work together), math and art. And at a more advanced level, it can lead to teaching kids how to code, and more about technology.
One of the questions that I do think about is whether or not Minecraft is popular with girls. My boys have never mentioned that to me (whether girls play Minecraft), and I suspect that Minecraft play is skewed heavily to boys. And that’s a shame, exacerbating the challenges of getting girls interested in technology and programming. I’d love to learn more and hear more from people on that particular subject.
I’m going to encourage my kids’ school to look at Minecraft for education. I’m not optimistic that they’ll pay attention, but I think it’d be awesome to explore and see what it can offer.