Minecraft: Games and Gamification

The Minecraft Experience Panel Presentation Games for Change NYC April 24th 2014


Extended Description:

Last year at G4C Nick Fortugno threw some controversy into the conversation about Minecraft by suggesting Minecraft was not a game but a toy. The proposed panel extends that conversation by asking what is the Minecraft experience, can it be defined or categorised and what as game designers and exponents can we take from understanding its zeitgeist and the impact it has had on the serious gaming landscape?

In 2012/23 at both GLS and G4C many presenters made jokes about including the obligatory Minecraft slide and for very good reasons. Minecraft is arguably a game of immense impact. It has been embraced as part of learning programs focussing on seemingly disparate areas from digital citizenship, history, coding and the maker movement. It is probably the first game brought into the classroom by teachers to leverage the out of school groundswell of existing player excitement. It’s impact is multi generational and perhaps more global than any game before it. The fan base and user community/ies are strong and well supported and exemplar of the potential Jim Gee describes for Big G game. This panel proposes to leverage that Big G space in the lead up to Games for Change 2014 and to honor the voices of its players.

Minecraft has been variously described as a game, toy sandpit, learning space, creative environment, virtual world, and game-infused service. But what really are the affordances of this blocky 16 bit program and how can we even begin to define its value to learning? Enter the Minecraft Experience, a global crowdsourced program managed by Bron Stuckey of The Massively Minecraft Project. People engaging in Minecraft activities about the globe are being invited to describe Minecraft in all its contexts and adaptations. The categories for these experiences will emerge from the crowd sourced content as members contribute thoughts, media, resources and questions to build the __Minecraft Experience__ evidence base.

This panel of notable speakers has been drawn together to answer provocative questions about Minecraft’s success and define its relationship to and impact on learning. The panelists have been chosen to represent play in many contexts formal education, informal learning, self-organised learning, schools and non-school contexts. They include game designers, educators, researchers, learners and parents who have each had a personal and professional experience of this and many other games.

Panelists take a position on the Minecraft experience and use the resources provided by members of the project to inform, support and evidence their case.

How are players, educators and researchers invited to contribute?

  • project wiki to prod, poke, stimulate and support crowd sourced content and dialog
  • live youth speakers on the panel
  • social media and wiki activity in lead-up using selected #minecraftproject
  • video inclusions of educators, parents, kids/youth arguments, evidence and questions
  • promotion of youth media pieces from existing YouTube etc to support and stimulate various provocative dialogs
  • livestream of the panel to global contributors with live feedback and questions.

Who could benefit from joining this project and attending the G4C 2014 panel session?

  • Educators seeking to understand Minecraft’s value to learning
  • Programs seeking to adapt Minecraft as part of a program of impact or change.
  • Game designers seeking to build in its wake
  • Anyone wanting to consider issues of fidelity, adaptation, constructionism, popular culture, and impact in gaming.





11 thoughts on “Minecraft: Games and Gamification

  1. Math, Science, History: Games Break Boundaries Between Subjects. (n.d.). MindShift. Retrieved May 8, 2014, from http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2014/05/math-science-history-games-break-boundaries-between-subjects-interdisciplinary-learning/

    Rigid specialization served the industrial age well. Corporations are departmentalized. The 20th-century shift to assembly line manufacturing was reliant on a way of thinking that divided whole products into disconnected parts.
    “Renaissance Man” replacing Uomo Universale.
    a formal Renaissance-Man-Liberal-Arts education remain limited to the elite.
    Unfortunately, it’s common to hear students identify themselves as “bad at math.” Some students believe that they’re “just not humanities types.” Already, in the early grades, students internalize specialized career tracks based not on their skillsets, but rather on the ease with which they achieve success in particular subject areas. They not only believe that they are good at the things that are easiest, but also that their identity and self-worth is tied up in those

    MincraftEDU (1) and SimCityEDU (2) provide flexible options for integrating familiar games with traditional classroom curriculum.achievements.
    Great game-based learning platforms do not attempt to trick students into memorizing facts. They are not “chocolate covered broccoli.” (3) Instead, video games can be used as tools that encourage students to apply class content in contextualized ways.

    (1) Teachers Transform Minecraft for Class Use. (n.d.). MindShift. Retrieved May 8, 2014, from http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2012/05/teachers-transform-commercial-video-game-for-class-use/
    (2) Let the Games Begin: Students and Teachers Dive Into SimCityEDU. (n.d.). MindShift. Retrieved May 8, 2014, from http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2013/10/let-the-games-begin-students-and-teachers-dive-into-simcityedu/
    (3) What’s the Secret Sauce to a Great Educational Game? (n.d.). MindShift. Retrieved May 8, 2014, from http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2012/04/whats-the-secret-sauce-to-a-great-educational-game/

  2. Social And Emotional Benefits Of Video Games: Metacognition and Relationships. (n.d.). MindShift. Retrieved May 21, 2014, from http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2014/05/social-and-emotional-benefits-of-video-games-metacognition-and-relationships/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+kqed%2FnHAK+%28MindShift%29

    kids who play a lot of games seem to show “measurable changes in neural processing and efficiency” and a positive increase in creativity. Players practice quick thinking and hurried response.
    Carol Dweck, Stanford professor who writes about motivation and social development. She makes a distinction between an entity theory of intelligence and an incremental theory of intelligence. When kids develop an entity theory of intelligence, they believe they have innate, fixed traits. They’re praised for being smart, or being good at math. It has a negative impact on long term attitudes. When kids develop an incremental theory of intelligence, on the other hand, they understand that they have certain skills. They are praised for their effort: “you worked so hard on that problem, you solved that puzzle.” They have a growth mindset.
    metacognition describes an individual’s ability to think about his or her own thinking. Among other things, it refers to the ability to self-evaluate a thought process and to iterate based on an analysis of strengths and weaknesses. For learners, strong metacognitive functions translate into study skills. Strong metacognitive functions mean students have the ability to identify problem areas and seek out the necessary and deliberate practice needed to compensate for weaknesses. See: http://blog.stcloudstate.edu/ims/2014/05/21/learn-how-to-learn-smart-strategies-that-help-students/
    Metacognition is also another word for what educators are talking about when we say we want to create life-long learners. When we talk about critical thinking, problem solving skills, creating innovators, or nurturing perseverance, we’re talking about metacognition

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