There is a great debate going on regarding the educational worth of Minecraft. Some say it is just a game, while others say it teaches children valuable life skills. It was high time this team investigated.
Minecraft exploded onto the game scene after its official 2011 release. Trialled from 2009, this game was the masterpiece of “Notch”, a Mojang company programmer. In 2020 the game had over 126 million monthly active users. They have sold 200 million copies+ of this game. The game itself takes a sandbox format. Indeed, Minecraft was the original sandbox format games. It lay the groundwork for games like Roblox to come later.
The question to tackle today is whether Minecraft – or minecrack as it gamers affectionately dub it – is an educational game or not. Let’s discuss.
Minecraft as a “Sandbox” Video Game
Let’s start with the format. What exactly do you do in Minecraft? You open the game with the ability to choose a creative world, where you have access to every brick the game uses, or a DIY one. In the classic game mode, you need to mine for the bricks you use to build things. The whole open world lies before you with no instructions on how to play the game. There’s no real plotting, although you can follow a loose storyline to get to other plains of existence. Though, you start with a character who has nothing.
The Minecraft world consists of blocks and that’s where things get interesting. Everything you build in Minecraft has square edges because it is all made from these bricks. If it isn’t built from bricks, it uses bricks to create it. You can chop down wood from trees, gather flowers, water, farm animals, you can build villages, design cityscapes, and recreate your favourite scenes from movies. Children can even use a Minecraft banner maker to make their world more inviting to others, teaching them that creating things individual to themselves encourages social interaction. Minecraft is a sandbox game because you are placed in an open world and allowed to build anything you like. In a very real sense, Minecraft is the digital version of LEGO® - but with all-square bricks.
Is Minecraft an Educational Game?
Minecraft isn’t just the answer to one of our many riddles, it is also an educational game. Disagree? Let us prove it to you. We would argue that any sandbox game encourages free expression and creativity. Any game that encourages recreating houses, understanding mechanics, and animal husbandry cannot be far from teaching.
Some of the things players learn from Minecraft include:
- Correlations between cause and effect
- Animal husbandry – where baby animals come from
- The limitations of particular building materials, for example, that wool burns easily
- Crop knowledge – which crops grow where
- Reading and writing skills as you communicate with other players or plant signs
- Problem solving techniques
- Engineering parts which go with other parts and understanding how they work
- Helps with math skills
- Encourages free thinking
- Encourages self-direction
- Teaches kids that creativity has rewards
In short, Minecraft teaches our kids to interact and play in a friendly, sociable way.
And that’s without even talking about the Educational Edition.