Microsoft’s popular video game Minecraft helps kids learn everything from programming, science and math to art, languages and history.
Concerned because you can’t pry your daughter away from Minecraft? Worried that your son spends every moment obsessing over moves in the super-popular video game?
Chill. It turns out that Minecraft builds up brain cells instead of dissolving them.
Minecraft isn’t about bloody broadswords and burning rubber. It has no complex story lines or gorgeously rendered images of alien soldiers. Instead, it’s filled with people, animals, trees and buildings that look as if they were built from digital Legos. And in a way, they were: The Minecraft universe is made up of blocks representing materials such as dirt, trees, stone, ores and water. Players mine and then use these blocks to craft the shelters, tools and weapons they need to protect themselves against nightly attacks from monsters called “mobs.”
When they move beyond the basics, kids can let their imaginations run wild, creating worlds with transporters, flying chickens or rain that springs up from the ground.
Along the way, Minecraft’s young players learn things like computer coding, engineering, architecture, urban planning and math.
“I just love the programming aspect. It allows you to change the game itself,” says Aiden LaFrance, a 10-year-old from Raton, New Mexico, who has been playing Minecraft since he was 6. Aiden’s latest project is a portcullis — the defensive gate that protected medieval castles — that rises automatically when a character walks in front of it. He details his work on YouTube, complete with an explanation of how double-piston extenders and a torch tower make it work.
“I would love to be a programmer,” says Aiden. “I see Minecraft as helping me get there.”