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5 things Minecraft teaches kids (and a bad thing, too)

5 things Minecraft teaches kids (and a bad thing, too)
Photo courtesy of SHUTTERSTOCK

The popular build-and-survive video game Minecraft could very well be the most surprising tech success of this decade. Created in 2009 by programmer Markus "Notch" Persson, expanded by a small team, and advertised mostly by word of mouth, it has more than 100 million users. To drive home its success, Microsoft bought the game a few months ago for a staggering $2.5 billion.

I'm sure you've heard many kids, teens and adults in your life talking about Minecraft. Here's why that might be a good thing, and how to keep it from turning bad.

1. It builds creativity

I'm a huge fan of Lego. My son and I have spent hours building the model on the box and then taking it apart and making whatever else we wanted by rearranging the parts. Minecraft gives kids the same creative freedom, but it's easier on your bank account. Plus, you’ll never step on a loose piece barefoot in the dark.

If you haven't played or seen it, Minecraft is a very blocky world, i.e. everything is built from blocks. The ground is made up of blocks, trees are blocks, and even your character avatar is very blocky. You get progress in the game by scavenging or mining blocks of various materials such as stone, wood, lava, etc. You use these as the basis for your creations, or combine them in "recipes" to create more advanced materials, tools and objects.

Some of the things Minecraft players have built are truly staggering: massive vehicles, intricate skyscrapers, working analog computers, and even the entire country of Denmark exactly to scale. Click here to see it.

There are also game modifications, or "mods," that add more advanced items like robots, nuclear reactors and a whole range of high-tech real-world materials. If you can think it, you can probably build it on Minecraft.

Next page: It teaches real-world skills
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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