Humans love to learn by playing. It’s a natural part of growing up and can be a valuable way to learn even into adulthood. Playing video games is no exception, especially with a game like Minecraft. The remarkable thing is just how much this game teaches without explicitly trying to do so. Here are just a few crucial skills kids can learn through Minecraft that will better equip them for a successful future.
Minecraft is simply one of the most creative games out there. With its vocabulary of blocks and items, players can create buildings, bridges, contraptions, decorations, even cities and castles. Whether in â€œcreativeâ€ mode or no, a Minecraft world is a canvas that kids can shape however they wish, creating nearly anything they can imagine.
Despite its nearly infinite possibilities, Minecraft presents options in a fairly constrained way; everything is made up of blocks that must align to the 3D grid of the space. This constraint prevents players from being overwhelmed by complexity. At any point, it’s quite easy to look at a construction and understand quickly how it’s built.
The constraint of the grid also prompts new kinds of creativity. How do you represent something that isn’t made up of straight edges and cubes, such as a boat or a balloon? Minecraft players often tackle problems like this, constrained in ways that make them imagine new and innovative ideas.
Multiplayer Minecraft adds new dimensions to the game that the single player mode lacks. The ability to inhabit and shape the world with other people poses entirely new opportunities and challenges. Players might cooperate to collect resources and build together or they might compete in player vs. player competitions and combat.
Kids who build with others get to experience all the challenges and rewards of collaboration in a relatively safe environment. They give and receive feedback, combine ideas, and navigate issues of sharing space with others such as ownership, privacy, and territory. If collaborating with others fails somehow, the consequences are minor because they’re limited to the scope of the game; no one is going to give them a bad grade or chastise them for it.
Minecraft is a game with no explicitly stated goal. It’s up to kids to decide what they want to do and accomplish. Do they want to build something? Amass resources? Defeat a boss? The game doesn’t tell players when to do these things; it simply makes them available to pursue at nearly any time.
It’s a wonderful feeling for kids and adults alike to feel in charge of their own destinies, to do and accomplish what feels right for them. By exercising this ability in Minecraft, kids can prepare for a successful future in which they are empowered to identify their own goals rather than waiting for some external authority to determine their goals for them.
One of the things that makes “survival” mode in Minecraft so compelling is the fact that players are forced to creatively design solutions to problems posed by the game. At night, monsters come out and attack, so it’s up to the player to build shelters and other defenses. Players have a hunger bar that needs to be refilled periodically, so they have to create farms or other sustainable sources of food. Even in the relative safety during the game’s advanced stages, players need to design special resource collection and storage systems if they want to stay organized and efficient.
Creative mode can also pose certain problems for players to solve. In any project, players might need to answer questions such as: How do I fit my creation into the surrounding environment? How can I make it look aesthetically pleasing? How do I plan ahead so I don’t make mistakes that might cause me to re-do large sections of work?
As a player continues developing their projects in Minecraft, iteration seems to naturally fold into the process. A player’s first shelter might be little better than a hole in the ground, purely utilitarian in keeping monsters at bay. However, players seldom find that sort of solution satisfying in the long term, so they improve and upgrade their shelters as they discover and collect new resources. Collected some wood and stone? Let’s change out these dirt walls to make a more civilized abode. Figured out how to make glass? Time to add windows, or maybe a skylight!
Iteration is a key component of the design process and promotes a productive mindset focused on continual evaluation and improvement, design-related or not. Students and professionals skilled in iteration will always find new ways to improve personally and in their work, setting themselves up for greater and greater success in the future.
The skills discussed here, creativity, collaboration, self-direction, problem solving, and iteration all contribute to one culminating skill: tenacity. It’s the ability to remain productive and motivated despite obstacles or temporary failures. Equipped with this skill, kids can persist through difficulties and reach their goals no matter what the world throws at them.
Minecraft rewards tenacity by making a player’s progress and hard work easily visible to themselves and others. That giant castle clearly took a great deal of time and effort, and it was only by persisting through the lava pools, creeper explosions, accidental falls, and dozens of other dangers that it was possible to collect the resources and place them brick-by-brick to create it.
For more information on how parents can nurture life skills in Minecraft, check out Katie’s post “10 Life Skills Parents Can Nurture in Minecraft.”