Last year my kids were introduced by one of their mentors to a game called Minecraft. I didn’t quite understand it but thought it was very interesting how he was having them build things in the game based on real life monuments. For example when my daughter was doing a study on Ancient Rome he had her use Minecraft to recreate a famous wedding chapel. To be honest I didn’t pay much attention as she seemed to know what she was doing and as an educator I trusted his judgement in using this program so I left it at that. It wasn’t something they brought home into their daily life to play it was just something they used when they attended his class.
Over the summer I noticed that while camping my son and the other boys started to really get into this game. I’d sit and look at it but didn’t get the excitement about it and my main goal was to assure myself that the game was appropriate for him to be playing. I discussed it with parents that I trusted and felt that it was a game that I could approve of especially after talking to my son and watching what he was creating. The boys would all have their down time after playing hard all morning sitting on our porch while at the lake discussing their plans and what they were working on.
In the fall this year my daughters started getting into it and so the Minecraft games began. Now I knew I really had to figure out what this was all about because it was obvious it was something that really was passionate for my kids and I couldn’t believe some of the conversations they were having over it. I would sit with them and listen to them barter for items they needed to cook, build and so much more. Together they built online communities and then started working on other servers where they met people and each of them started building some online friendships. My oldest was working on an Olympic Village with a boy from Australia, my younger daughters were working with two of their friends building hotels and schools and my oldest boy created an amazing water park where people warped too to visit.
Then came the idea to start a monthly Minecraft club in our home. I put out a call for homeschoolers in my area that may be interested in Minecraft and it soon became apparent to me that this game was very well known in all of their homes. I couldn’t believe it but was so excited that I had other parents to help me figure all this out. Our first Minecraft had 17 kids and it was interesting to watch kids who had never met before this date come together for a common passion. I had all the plans set up that we would build monuments to scale and learn about different countries. Within the first 10 minutes I could tell they all had something different in mind and quickly got together and worked on their plans.
I did have conversations with my kids about the game, had them take me on tours of what they were making and of course had the big internet safety discussion about what we can and cannot say! We especially talked about some of the language that tended to pop up on the screen from other chatters and my kids were quick to assure me that they 1) didn’t use the language 2) shut their chats off when it was getting to bad or moved to a private server they just worked on and 3) reported anyone to staff who was inappropriate.
There was one instance in my mind where there was this player that was being a pest to my oldest daughter and her friend. They were playing on a public server and there was another player who was trying to wreck what they had been working on. Both myself and my daughters friends Mom were in contact with each other while watching all this unfold online. I was so proud at how my daughter took charge, warned the guy and got in touch of staff to deal with him. She was so confident and kept saying “dont’ worry mom, I got this.” Now he wasn’t being inappropriate in a way where I felt I needed to stay in but more wanting to pester them and try to destroy what they had worked so hard to build.
It was the incident that got me thinking about how much this game has brought to my children’s lives. They are better spellers and help eachother out with words that they have struggles with, their typing skills have improved immensely, they work out problems that they find on their servers, they hire staff and build communities making sure all the essential services are there, they have learned how to play safe on the internet and come to me if they are having difficulties, and so much more. The list can go on and on. The math skills, creation and planning that goes into what the kids are learning is fantastic and every time they are on it I am being called over to check out a new skill they have learned.
Overall I am rather impressed with this new game my kids have found and have made it my personal goal to learn more about the game and how to work it. I love surprising my kids by jumping on and playing with them sometimes and they love to show me around and tell me how to do things. I even love that their online friends talk to me when I am on there and try to teach me how to build and manuever this mysterious and creative world.
Do you ever get involved with your kids games and learn what makes them so passionate?