Minecraft has become one of the most well known titles in video game history, inspiring legions of gamers to take up their pickaxes in an attempt to build the spectacular. It also inspired Microsoft to pay out an immense $2.5 billion to buy developer Mojang, in a move to cultivate a franchise that has caused in-game creations as varied as a recreation of Destiny raid 'Crota's End' and a 4.5 million block city.
In particular, Minecraft has impressed because its creative nature, featuring the tools for players to build whatever their imagination desires – as long as they don’t mind their creations being a little blocky. That creative stem has not only inspired would-be gaming architects, but also educators. Intrepid teachers have used Mojang's game to teach everything from history, through the creation of historic buildings, to maths and physics.
Minecraft is now going to take another step into the educational realm, as the creative title is set to be given to secondary schools in Northern Ireland for free. In a move that is bound to be popular with the children who get to use a copy of the game, Minecraft will be gifted to 200 schools and 30 community organizations. The move, as revealed by The Guardian, was put forward by the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure as part of the annual CultureTECH festival, and is the first time Minecraft has been distributed as a tool across an entire province.
Northern Irish schoolgoers will not be given access to the standard commercial build of Minecraft, however, and will instead be given download codes for MinecraftEdu. This is an education-focused version of the game, developed by a Finnish-American studio called TeacherGaming, and includes tools for teachers to use. The developer created the classroom edition of Minecraft in 2011, and it is used by over 3,000 teachers across the world as a learning aide.
It’s a far cry from the other recent governmental move surrounding Minecraft. Earlier this month, the Turkish government continued with its plans to ban Minecraft from sale. A study from the Turkey’s Family and Social Policies Ministry found that the game inspired bullying and promoted violence, although the study did praise Minecraft’s creative aspects. A motion has been put forward to Turkey’s courts to decide on the future of Mojang’s title, with the developer suggesting a focus on non-violent game modes.
Elsewhere, reception for Minecraft as a positive influence has been much more prevalent. The Minecraft add-on LearnToMod is aimed specifically at teaching children how to code, whilst Computercraft adds programmable computers to the Minecraft world. It remains to be seen just how successful this move will be, but it’s a bold one that will hopefully inspire both a passion for learning and a respect for the depth of video games in its users.
Source: The Guardian