Thursday, 4 April 2013

Minecraft - Lego Revisited?

I'm not keen about games, least of all card games; I haven't got the patience. I'd rather read.  As a child I played with dolls and occasionally stuff like Scrabble and Monopoly.  My own children favoured their Lego set and it's one thing I keep in the toy cupboard even though they've left those toys far behind.

I loved watching my children play.  Lego became a place where new communities were created and where they were lost for hours, completely mesmerised by the infinite power of their imaginations.  So it was with some intrigue that I had a second look at Minecraft after a student described it to me as "sorta like Lego."

Last year I discovered that a couple of students had downloaded the game and used it in class when they were meant to be on task doing something "educational."  I found the icon on the desktop of one of their classroom's computers. I asked about it and other students in the class "pimped" on the culprits.  Short of time, I asked the guilty parties whether they considered the game to be educational and they, looking at their feet, admitted that they'd been mucking around.  The game was duly deleted from the programme cache.  And life continued.

But I was curious.  What was this game?  Articles, blogs and links on Twitter started to appear.  I was already convinced that digital technology had its merits not least because it attracted students.  Blogging had been a successful tool in my writing programme because of its ability to reach a global and authentic audience. Lots of other applications were integrated into my teaching programme.  Games but not gaming.  The latter was not yet for me an "educational application".

And Minecraft?  It sounded like a war game.  Until David told me, "Mine means dig.  Craft means build.  Like Lego."

Time for a closer look.
cc image