Minecraft Mania!

Saskatchewan Legislature Re-created in Minecraft

So today, Majong, the company formed around the hugely popular Minecraft video game, released the TU14 update for Minecraft on XBox360.

If you’ve been living under a rock (or at least without an obsessed six year old in your house!), Minecraft is a “sandbox” game – basically, a game that allows players to move through the game’s world freely and that don’t have pre-determined paths or barriers, goals or ways to “win”.

It’s become hugely popular over the past couple years as millions of players have taken to the game.

Acting much like “virtual Lego”, Minecraft allows you to use a variety of blocks and other shapes to create…well, pretty much anything you can imagine.  The game has two modes – “Survival” where you try to stay alive against a variety of monsters – both traditional (skeletons, spiders) and unique to the game (Creepers, Endermen) while building, mining and crafting the food, tools and resources you need to survive.

There’s also “Creative” mode where you are given unlimited supplies of everything the game has to offer plus the ability to fly. Arguably, this is a big part of what has made the game so successful – instead of another “fight the zombies/try to survive” game (even within the unlimited world of a sandbox game), the Creative mode gives players virtually unlimited freedom to build what they want, create games-within-games and so on.

I’d heard buzz about the game awhile ago and downloaded the free version for our iPad and XBox.  As he got more into it, we upgraded to the paid version on both platforms.  Then we began adding some of the mods (not as many as the PC version has but we haven’t made that leap yet) and other add-ons to change the gameplay experience.

As with Lego, there’s a whole sub-culture of Minecraft fans making videos on YouTube of their tips, builds and so on.  (Pace loves the videos of a guy called Stampy Longnose and he’s not the only one!)

As always, there are those who immediately worry video game are bad.  (Just yesterday, Pace came home and told us that a friend had told him Minecraft was violent.)

That’s true to a point but only in the same way that Looney Tune cartoons are violent – the game’s very limited violence is cartoonish and since the game has a very pixelated look like a retro 1980’s game, you can barely recognize the violence at all, even when it happens.

Personally, I’m much more interested in the positives of a game like this – teaching everything from spatial awareness to problem solving to experimentation to good old reading, writing and ‘rithmetic.

In fact, the Journal of Adolescent Research published a study comparing kids that played video games to those that didn’t. “Video game players, regardless of gender, reported higher levels of family closeness, activity involvement, attachment to school and positive mental health,” authors Paul J. C. Adachi and Teena Willoughby concluded. “Video game players also had less risky friendship networks and a more favorable self-concept.” – via

Libraries are getting in on the action too and finding Minecraft is a great way to connect with otherwise hard to reach teens and other young people (I know it’s a huge hit in my branch – I often see as many people playing it as browsing Facebook which is saying something!)

Although I think this is only for schools at this time, there are even educational versions of Minecraft that permit a dedicated server so students can play collaboratively.  That would be an excellent addition to a library’s IT environment as well.

Anyhow, it’ll be interesting to see what lies in store for Minecraft – will it continue to grow in popularity or be replaced by something else?  Time will tell…

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: