How can we learn with computer games? Let’s look into the process of learning to play a noteworthy and recently published game as an example.
Minecraft is a “sandbox game”, one which lets players explore an environment without being driven along a superimposed narrative structure. Minecraft was released to the Web without fanfare or corporate support in 2009, and has become something of a cult sensation this year. Designed and maintained by a single programmer – originally as a side project – Minecraft has won a devoted following, user-made videos (like this one), and glowing reviews. Income from game sales has grown enough to enable the designer to work on it full time. Meanwhile the game flies in the face of mainstream gaming, as it offers only the most primitive graphics and basic play.
Exploring Minecraft’s success in the gaming culture industry is interesting, but not for my purposes. My focus is on gaming for education. So let us frame a different question, one germane to teaching and learning: how does one learn to play this game, its world and rules?
The next several posts will explore answers from several perspectives, including using the Web and playing the game itself.