Do you know the game, Mine Craft?
Mine Craft, which was created in 2009, has sold more than 1 million copies and is a very popular game around the world. The game has also received recognition from experts in the education industry for its ability to bring out children’s talents and capabilities. In this article, we will introduce why Mine Craft is a useful educational tool.
Mine Craft, was developed by a Swedish programmer, Markus Persson. The goal of the game is to use various kinds of blocks to create your own town or village. Blocks are made of “wood”, “stone” or “gold” and players can choose which blocks they use; so, if they would like to make a wood house they can choose wood blocks and if they want to make a stone building they can choose stone blocks. Sometimes zombies and monsters appear to add challenges but the real goal of the game is to create your own world. Mine Craft is defined as a role play game without a story. The original game was created for the PC but there are currently versions for the smartphone, tablet and Nintendo Switch as well.
In the PC version of Mine Craft, there is an option to allow the player to enter coding using the MOD technology incorporated in the game structure. Adding your own code is a form of programming. Programming will be a required subject in Japanese elementary schools from 2020. Playing Mine Craft is a great way for students to experience what programming is all about.
The addition of MOD using coding is a functionality that appears only in the PC version of the game. However, in the smartphone version of the game, players can create “red stone lines”. By lining up “red stone blocks”, players are creating their own electric circuits which enable them to move various blocks automatically. To create a dynamic gadget, players must create a complicated red stone line, which is like creating a computer program.
While playing Mine Craft, children combine blocks with various qualities to create their own world. Although players do not start from a blank slate but instead with a natural environment to work from, there are no restrictions on what type of building they construct within that environment. The great thrill of Mine Craft is that there is no storyline so players are free to create what they want. Using MOD and red stone lines makes the game even more complicated and challenging.
Of course, when young children try programming for the first time they are often not successful right away. However, when children experience problems when they are playing they are encouraged to think for themselves how the problem can be solved. Through play, they practice trial and error and usually they eventually come up with the answer.
Figuring out where the problem is within the code or line helps children learn how to better use trial and error to solve problems. In Europe, there are even schools that use the game as part of their regular curriculum. Please try using the game as a learning tool within the home and see how your child likes it.