Minecraft's Role in Education

When most gamers hear the word Minecraft, they think about the cool indie game with the unique blocky design and the emphasis on building and resource gathering. Very few people who have not experienced it firsthand realize the other side of Minecraft: the simulation tool used in a variety of education functions. The age range the game is useful to for education is extensive. Children can use the game to learn many basic skills, and I personally know of at least one college level engineering course that used Minecraft as a primary tool for simulation purposes thanks to its ability to properly simulate probability, physics, and other basic but complex factors.

In early education, Minecraft is a very useful tool for teaching a number of useful life skills to children while keeping them actively interested and involved. They can even play Minecraft free on a browser at school, which has become popular in campus computer labs.  Children may not even realize that they are skill building when they are doing so. Basic gameplay and utility in the game requires players to be proficient in reading, writing, adding, subtracting, counting, understanding basic computer science, and social skills.

A major advantage Minecraft has against other would-be educational tools is that it is very safe for a public environment. The game features no foul language or blood and not much in the way of story elements to criticize. This is especially true thanks to the game’s nonviolent mode in which the game’s many monsters stop attacking the player or go away entirely, removing the survival combat that is central in the main game. Online play is always subject to the personalities of individual consumers, but Minecraft supports the option to set up a private server, sidestepping another potential point of conflict for educational use.

One very nice thing about this game as a learning tool is that it only carries a $25 price tag, making it considerably cheaper than many other similar simulation options that might be available. An equally useful trait Minecraft has is in its simplicity. It has incredibly low graphics requirements due to its intentionally low-bit graphic design. This makes it possible for this game to function on most computers, and virtually all modern computers. Perhaps Minecraft’s biggest advantage for education purposes is its modular and variable nature. The game is extremely versatile and can be adjusted or overhauled on an as needed basis. Recognizing the potential for education, Mojang, the company behind Minecraft, released an official modified version of the game for education purposes titled Minecraft Edu. This version had certain substantial and design alterations with the goal of making it more accessible and effective as a teaching tool.