Sandbox games like Minecraft are incredible in their ability to allow the gamer to simply create. Quite easily, a teacher can now offer a virtual environment for the student to experience something that they couldn’t do in real life. For example, my students are currently studying The Maze Runner. It is highly inappropriate for me to put them into a giant maze with killer beasts and ask them to solve the maze. However, in Minecraft, I can do that, and the students will love me for it!
Remember those projects when we were asked to build dioramas? Sure they were fun for the moment. But then you’re left with a bulky box that inevitably sits on a shelf for a long while, and collects dust until you pull it down one day and wonder why the heck you even hung onto this. By utilizing a game such as Minecraft, students can create an entire world, paying attention to specific details, and then take their teachers and peers through a tour IN the world they just created. That’s cool!
Playing video games also frees you to be someone you wouldn’t normally be. I’ve barely ridden a horse only a couple of times in my life, and it scared the daylights out of me! They’re so tall! But in Minecraft, any opportunity I have to ride my glorious steed, I will take it! Same with Legend of Zelda, and Skyrim. I can read a Kingdom Hearts comic and see/read what Sora, Donald, and Goofy are up to. But when I play Kingdom Hearts, I AM Sora, travelling with Donald and Goofy and trying to save the Disney universe. The gamer can also make decisions free of real life consequences, but still experience the consequences within the game. If I choose to go install pretty pink carpet in Thomas’ cloud house it might be funny at the time. However, I had better be prepared for him to come to my mansion and install and entire flock of chickens underneath my floor. Right there: Influencing pro-social behavior and problem solving.
If you have not already checked it out, please take a look at the teaching resources available at Minecraftedu– http://services.minecraftedu.com/wiki/Teaching_with_MinecraftEdu
It’s incredible! They’ve obviously been doing this for a while, and people are sharing their resources. Lesson plans for science, math, language arts, social studies, and humanities. Awesome! Anytime I don’t have to reinvent the wheel I am totally for it!
Bethsada Softworks. (2011). The elder scrolls v: skyrim. [Playstation 3]. Rockville, Maryland: Bethsada Game Studios.
Kapp, K. (). The Gamification of Learning and Instruction : Game-based Methods and Strategies for Training and Education . Ebscohost.
Minecraft.edu. (2014). Teaching with minecraft.edu. Accessed at http://services.minecraftedu.com/wiki/Teaching_with_MinecraftEdu
Nintendo. (1998). Legend of zelda: ocarina of time. [Nintendo 64]. Kyoto, Japan: Nintendo
Persson, M. (2011). Minecraft. [PC]. Stockholm, Sweden: Mojang
Square Enix. (2002). Kingdom hearts. [Playstation 2]. Shinjuku, Tokyo: Square Enix