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2 experts and 2 parents have answered

Matt Thrower writer
Matt Thrower Parent. Gamer. Coder. Writer. Bath, Bath and North East Somerset, UK

This is a crazy question. Nuts. So I’ll ask a different question instead. What do kids not learn about society from Minecraft?

The answer is the soft, human stuff. The little details of body language and culture, the importance attached to a gesture or a loving touch. Those are vital lessons, but no computer world will teach them. Everything else: teamwork, talking, collaborating and trading, can all be learned in microcosm in the world of Minecraft. The other things that are missing aren’t things that children need to know. Mere details, or subtle emotions only learned through adult interaction.

It might seem a risible claim to make for a game that involves building things out of badly pixelated virtual blocks. But it’s true. Minecraft is at its most glorious when its denizens build huge, wonderful things like replicas of Middle-Earth or re-creations of The Simpsons. Things on that scale require many hands, working and communicating together as a team.

There’s more. Construction on a grand scale demands grand tools and rare materials not easily obtained in the game. To get them quickly you must be willing to trade. And just like the real world, players who’ve accumulated little loot have nothing to offer the old-timers but friendship and kindness, surely the foundation not just of trade but all society?

It also makes a great classroom. Even teachers agree. Kids have trouble navigating the complexities of adult relationships. That’s why they love computer games, because they exist within a safe yet exciting world with rules they can understand.

Minecraft has all the elements needed to teach children the foundations of society out in the wide, scary world, and it’s the perfect place for them to learn.

2 Reply Share:
Opinion 4 years ago
expert answer
Linda Breneman expert
Linda Breneman Managing Ed., Seattle, US
Gaming expert

I agree with the other answers here, but last evening I had a delightful interaction in a Seattle coffee shop that reminded me that computer games don't exist in a completely separate world. I was having a cup of tea and an adorable 10-year-old girl asked me if she could plug in her computer next to my chair. I said sure, and asked her if she was playing Minecraft (I'd seen it on her screen). She proceeded to show me in loving detail the village she'd been working on. I asked if she played with her dad, who was sitting next to her, and she said he wasn't really into it. But she played with her friends. She was proud and articulate and we had a lovely conversation. Games can be wonderful conversation enablers, especially if parents play the games alongside their kids.

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Experience 3 years ago
Simon Munk writer
Simon Munk Consumer tech journalist, mountain biker, dad of two. Walthamstow

There's something else Minecraft lacks beyond "the soft, human stuff" and that's real-world physical play. Physics, mechanics etc. simply don't work realistically in Minecraft (or any game).

I'd also add I'm always really wary of people thinking any one technique, approach or product is the golden answer for everything and everyone. Some kids won't engage with Minecraft, just as some kids don't engage with blackboards and chalk.

That's not to say I'm not immensely positive about Minecraft. But just like iPads in the classroom - the danger is the tech and the interactivity overshadow actual individual learning.

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Opinion 4 years ago
expert answer
Maria  Sibireva expert
Maria Sibireva Senior lecturer Saint Petersburg, Russia
Child development expert

I also notice two moments concerning Minecraft during the play of children in the playground. Firstly, they chat with each other concerning Minecraft: what they do, how, with what difficulties they face. Secondly, they try to "build blocks" during their alive play, image themselves as heroes who build and do something and interact with each other (I can say that is some kind of role play).

So, why it is not the training about society? Children have common topic to chat (and children of different ages are engaged) and secondly they try to interact with each other - face to face.

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Experience 3 years ago

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