In this “blocky shaped” game you can spend hours and hours fighting against mobs like creepers, endermen and zombies, you can build houses and other constructs, or discover the vast landscape of this weird looking game which does not seem to make any sense at first, but it’s super fun. Minecraft is played probably by people of all kinds of ages, ranging from children, to teenagers and even adults. Yes, including me. I love spending time on this game every now and then.
Minecraft has been really popular for many years and still is. That is also the case among children and it really shows in different kind of shops (e.g., H&M, C&A, KKEC, etc.) as they sell merchandise of Minecraft. But does this iconic game bring the risk of having an influence on young kids? Or could it even be educative?
Being thrown into the Minecraft world with no tools and resources you have to start “mining” for materials in order to craft items, weapons and different kinds of tools. You start with nothing and gradually expand your inventory with new stuff that you collect and make yourself. There is always the chance to get better resources, and better resources mean better tools and building materials. You want to build bigger and nicer shelters. You explore the vast landscape in the hope of finding rare things. There seems to be no end to this game and you can always discover something.
Because of this, Minecraft poses the risk of having the urge to continue on and on in order to get more stuff. It is a huge investment of time and even then, there is a chance you haven’t got everything out of the game yet. This is especially risky for children, as they do not yet have the ability to make the reasonable decision when it is time to stop, making them addicted to the game. This results in the neglection of school-work, house chores, and even of family. If uncontrolled, kids may suffer from a lack of sleep resulting into a declining performance in school. Addiction is probably the greatest risk Minecraft can pose and parents have complained about their kids spending too much time on the game. Of course, this does not only happen to children – adults do become addicted to Minecraft as well. However, in the case of young kids it is important to teach them how to control their screen-time.
Minecraft offers many Benefits
The most obvious aspect which kids can benefit from in Minecraft is the freedom of creativity. There is basically no limit to how much and how big you can make your house, castle or statue. It is possible to make use of different kinds of materials in order to match different colors. It is even possible to build whole villages or cities completely to your liking. It surely requires a creative mind and depending on how deep the “project” goes some architectural skills. Such bigger projects also require the player to make plans and calculate proportions if they want to the outcome to be perfect. Minecraft provides a perfect space to let your creativity thrive.
Minecraft also can help children improve problem-solving skills individually or as a team. PhD candidate Ms. Jane Mavoa of the University of Melbourne wrote about what are kids getting out of playing Minecraft: “Parents also noted the highly social nature of playing Minecraft. Even when children are not playing in the same ‘game world’, the verbal commentary and negotiation of in-game plans and actions provided opportunities for collaboration, negotiation, and teamwork – as well as conflict resolution.”
This blocky game has also helped children improve their writing, reading, and communication skills. Minecraft comes with a multiplayer option which enables you to play with your friends or other people. It is, thus, also supported with a chat window which you can open. If you want to achieve something in this virtual world as a team you will need good communication. It’s the perfect tool to chat and discuss with other people, which in many cases will improve writing and reading skills. Additionally, because there are so many resources, materials and tools which you can obtain in Minecraft, some kids will look up things and research how to acquire certain things. This also teaches them how to research stuff by themselves.
There are many more benefits which can be derived from Minecraft and these seem to be the most prominent ones according to several accounts.
Minecraft in the classroom
Yes, that’s right! Minecraft is also used in educational facilities in order to create a unique learning experience. Minecraft offers an official download of the Education Edition which offers different lessons from coding, to math, history, climate lessons, etc. For example, architecture from historical spaces and buildings can be imported into the game, and the players are then able to log onto this virtual space and explore it from themselves. This gives students an interactive opportunity to take a look at the Roman Colosseum and the Globe Theatre in London, for instance. It is a unique way of learning about historical sites which will certainly be not forgotten that fast by young students and definitely will bring in some fresh air to the “traditional” style of teaching.
Minecraft in classrooms can also offer a way for students to dive into different cultures and learn about them. A game designer from New Zealand has created a Minecraft world with the name “Ngā Motu”. The idea of making this space was to introduce students to the indigenous Māori culture through this game. In this way, students were able to build social-emotional skills and they could study their country’s national language and history.
If you are interested, you can learn more about this here: https://education.minecraft.net/de-de/resources/learn-maori