When I discovered Minecraft circa 2010 when it was a little known ‘beta’ game. It immediately struck me has having archetypes which could be put to work in education (institutional and self-directed). I enjoyed and learned so much in the next couple of years as part of what was then the largest indie-educational game community I co-founded. The time was made all the more enjoyable as I was playing along side my kids at home to conduct some “deschooling activities”. I maintain the things we achieved (such as presenting our framework and methods at Games for Change and Dundee University) would have never have happened though current institutional practices and culture. But time moves on and though Minecraft has become huge in education, next-gen technology is bringing even more opportunities.
So where next? what (if anything) comes after Minecraft which could promote similar opportunities? I think it’s called Project Spark, and I’ve been busy with the beta for a while, and I’m even more pleased to say had access to Microsoft to look at how to take this into ‘educational’ realms. In short PS gives you the tools to create your own game, and build entire interactive worlds full of heroes and monsters. The game has been in beta for 10 months — and some of the early versions did suck. Microsoft listened and has come out with what I think is the next ‘big’ game for schools, especially post-middle school — but of course those interested in finding out about game-based-learning, not just ‘using’ PS to make games.
The full game is due out in October on Win 8.1 and XBONE. The first DLC will be a sci-fi tool pack called “Galaxies: First Contact” and there will also be great campaign adventure called “Champions Quest” Void Storm”.
I highly prefer the XBONE arrangement and would advocate for schools to seriously consider buying a console over a computer to run PS. The game itself is (will be) free, but expect there to be ‘paid’ content available. I don’t see this as an issue as people now buy content and DLC all the time.
You’ll be seeing me doing a lot of work around Project Spark in the future … because it’s EPIC.