My seven-year-old daughter plays Minecraft. A lot.
In fact, she’s so crazy about Minecraft, she can spend hours upon hours building and mining and taming wolves and cheetahs.
And I think it’s wonderful.
Of course she also spends a lot of time watching videos of other people playing Minecraft, which makes no sense to me at all. She talks to me about Minecraft and shows me what she’s built, and literally all I can see when I look at the screen in the terrible and crappy graphics and wonder what, exactly, she sees in it.
What I don’t do, however, is worry about her playing it.
We have some rules she’s not allowed on servers run by anyone other than the parents I know and trust. She can’t do more than an hour or two at a time. But mostly I stay out of her way and let her enjoy her games.
What’s interesting about the game is there’s starting to be some pretty credible research about how Minecraft actually helps teach kids important lessons they need to know.
Dean Groom, a teacher and gamer and thought leader in kids and gaming, wrote a really interesting post recently that made a round among the parents of my daughter’s school (it’s a private alternative school and the kids have limited access to Minecraft there as well), and he pointed out eight things kids learn from playing Minecraft.
1. Sensation (Learning as sense-pleasure)
2. Fantasy (Learning as make-believe)
3. Narrative (Learning as unfolding story)
4. Challenge (Learning as obstacle course)
5, Fellowship (Learning as social framework)
6. Discovery (Learning as uncharted territory)
7. Expression (Learning as soap box)
8. Submission (Learning as mindless pastime)
But a later point he made, is the one that really stuck with me. When he spoke about how something can push the kids to do more in the game he said, “To me, parents can be the pushing factor in the process of learning while playing. By asking your child “how high can you build a tower” it switches the child’s effort from submission to challenge, for example. In many ways, a teacher or parent in a world without games used to do this all the time.”
Pretty interesting stuff. And with hints of a Lego-like Minecraft movie in the works, I think the Minecraft craze will only grow. I’m happy to know that my daughter is getting something out of her game time.
I’ll leave you with this video. If you’ve ever wondered what Minecraft is all about and how creative it can get, this highlights it really well: