Some observations this week about the kids playing Massively Minecraft. This is a free, community build project, for parents, teachers, kids and anyone interested in exploring creativity in a multi-player game called Minecraft. We have an open invitation to help us build this community though the portal site on Social Media Classroom.
In an interview we did with Youth Voices and Teachers Teaching Teachers, we broadly discussed games and the particular potential of Minecraft with Paul Allison and Susan Ettenheim. Its always interesting to talk about games with people who somehow stand outside of them, yet drawn to at least talking about them as a literacy, mostly as people immediately declare that they ‘are not gamers’ and ‘don’t play games’. This fascinates me, as in my view, play is something all humans do, and any effort to organise that is a game, if we think of games as effort towards overcoming an entirely avoidable problem. We do this all the time, except we seem to project the idea of ourselves as ‘characters’ as being different, and yet curiosity (and essential game-motivator) is the trigger to even have these discussions.
Adults are tricky pack animals, declarations of being play-curious seems to be a social-taboo, as though those that play are less scholarly or doing something less important.
To me gamers are endlessly setting themselves problems – and so learning occurs naturally though accomplishment and knowledge. The fact that this doesn’t conveniently align to standards, or doesn’t look like text on a page is the game-excuse, just as the web-excuse for not using online tools such as blogs and wiki’s is the lack of time.
In Massively Minecraft, we don’t ask teachers or parents to teach, or create lessons. We simply ask them to enter an immersive world in which children will always be curious, creative and adventurous. Why would anyone not want to see this? I really struggle to resolve this beyond that fact that games are the monster under the bed – misunderstood and set aside in favour of digital tools and literacies that are far easier to accept as future-reality. The fact that games, especially social games are at least an equal as a defining media of the century so far (growth, revenue, time played etc.,) is entirely ignored.
This to me is like Cunard ignoring Jet-Engines as flying wasn’t their business, and we know how that worked out.
We ask adults to spend time with children, at a social level, to observe and admire their work – and then to think hard about what they are seeing – playful accomplishment and knowledge building in a social space.
We’d like to have our community world open more – especially to suit the US timezones, but that is why we are trying to build community. We don’t need adults to police it, their main role is to admire it, to support the kids, help when asked and explore the vast world in their own right. What we believe is that adults will learn about the truly amazing capacity of kids, so to grow our world, we don’t need teacher-game experts, just people who can log-in and admire. The more people we have to do that, the more worlds and times we can open.
We know that there will be teacher-worlds, and teacher-communities putting up multi-player Mindcraft worlds for teaching and learning. Massively Mindcraft is about creating a space for ‘social development’, a gateway for children and adults to connect in a simple game world – and from that think about how we can use games more broadly to re-shape the way we go about learning and teaching – and who is involved in that process. If it takes a village to raise a child, then perhaps it’s takes a virtual world to raise teacher and parent understanding of the power of social play.
If you are interested in using this game space – then please join our community and get in touch.