It’s not unusual for kids to bond over discussions of their favorite video games, and for older children that often means the latest action-packed shoot’em up adventure. But lately I’ve noticed kids talking less about Call of Duty and Halo, and instead talking a whole lot about the creative game Minecraft.
For the uninitiated, Minecraft is a sandbox game without clearly defined goals. Instead, players are dropped into a retro 3D world of Lego- style blocks and free to explore and build to their heart’s content. The game is played by making or destroying over 100 different kinds of blocks- everything from lava and ice to portals and monster spawners- to create buildings, transportation systems, whole communities and anything else the imagination can come up with.
In creative mode players have no limitations on resources or restraints on lives and are free to build whatever they want. Those looking for an experience closer aligned to a classic RPG can engage in survivor mode to gather materials, build shelters and escape the evil monsters that come out at night. But don’t confuse it with games like World of War Craft; although survivor mode does require players to build experience and maintain health, there are no sides to join, no alien enemies to vanquish, and no armies to conquer; as long as you survive the night you are free to wander, create and explore.
Even though I don’t play it much, I love this game for changing the way kids are talking about gaming. Instead of talking about weapons and kill hits, they’re talking about design features and construction. Instead of multiplayer modes that having them teaming up to destroy, Minecarft has them teaming up to create. Less gunshots and more hammers!