The idea that a kid or parent can measure the amount of minecraft played to declare it educational or addictive is spurious.
In actual fact, useful for parenting is the knowledge that from the age of about six, kids are making complex relationships between minecraft and the real world, taking narratives and literacies from playing it into the real world.
Like the other myth, debunked by numerous researchers that “TV is passive entertainment”, these media reports serve one higher goal.
They use minecraft to perpetuate moral panic. In Australia, you have to consider those who control the media, present us with an opinion of what you and I might consider a modern family is. The more interesting response to these reports is whether or not you consider their views on what you and I should do and think to be achronistic, and why they should want us to agree to return to the fifties nuclear family.
There is no measure of minecraft (time spent) that would be useful in determining attention deficit, long term aggression or academic brilliance. The fact kids might play minecraft for an hour a day in school does not make that teacher or school better/worse than one which doesn’t. At home a kid who plays ten hours on a weekend isn’t more addicted than one who plays for twenty minutes.
Anyone measuring good/bad minecraft using time, will merely drive themselves insane. Media reports know this, thus is why they “write” them. They are still rubbish and untrue.
4 thoughts on “The basic media myth about minecraft”
I have been challenging our own teachers, and parents of the kids that are not allowed to play (and those that are) about the definition of ‘addiction’ and how that applies to gaming. I also feel that we have gone too far when calling ‘engagement’ an ‘addiction’. I’ve taken kids who were on the spectrum, unable to focus on any one thing for more than three minutes, and I’ve taught them keyboard, math and socialization skills. I’ve also worked with kids with anxiety disorders, and watched them evolve from fearful non-interaction to full-on confident, strategizing ‘players’.
I no longer call Minecraft a game as a result. And I will argue ’till ‘The End’ that we have only just begun to explore the oppportunities that MC offers all of us.
Thanks Anna. I believe MC is akin to loving ‘realist’ novels, and indeed many kids on the spectrum love to watch TV and movies which are realist, based around characters, small space environments with the plot being constructed out of their interactions. In TV, these things help kids mirror the behaviour of the characters – and in MC I think they get to play this out and practice in exactly the same way. It’s hard for a kid on the spectrum to focus, because they are constantly trying to work out what to do when it comes to mirroring other kids and adults around them, and it makes me so glad to know you’re finding positive use of MC for kids. I think many kids like this are give tasks with computers are so ‘low-flow’ in their experience that they actually find them depressing. It’s a side of the ‘flow’ theory that is often over looked. I’ll go check out your website!
I’ve spent some time thinking about ‘grinding’ as a feature of games. Most (all?) games require grinding to a certain extent – I’ve experienced this heavily in games like FarmVille and The Sims. It happens when you have to perform a repetitive task in order to move on or level up.
You mentioned that ‘engagement’ can be confused with ‘addiction’. I agree. I would also offer that games featuring medium-high levels of grinding (Minecraft for example does entail a fair bit of mining) need player skills developed to manage this. When players are constantly saying things like “I just needs to mine/farm/harvest X more of Y before I stop!” I think it CAN indicate obsessive behaviour. But obsessive behaviour is not always bad, it’s not the same as an addiction, and it needs to be experienced to learn how to ‘play well’ rather than avoiding it altogether.
@dskmag Your welcome! I enjoy reading your posts. @kmcg2375 Thanks for your support re: what are addictions? As for the obsessive behaviour, I haven’t yet encountered it (we’re 50+ kids and counting that have gone through my course). What I have encountered, tho, are ‘noobs’ that want to jump right to the end of the game and fight the Enderdragon without any planning! And there are others too, that want to learn how to ‘mod’ their game, without much time playing on Vanilla. They are so excited by it all! I suppose that is what happens after watching 3 months of YouTube channels, then getting permission from parents to download the full version of Minecraft and have their own accounts. When we withhold something as powerful as Minecraft, its an open flood-gate of creativity and exploration. Now, if I can just get them all to go to the wiki when I ask them to, I’m halfway there!
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