Minecraft: More than a Game
Jolyon Jenkins asks why UK children are hooked on the computer game Minecraft. Does its alternate universe stimulate creativity or make them disengage from planet Earth?
Jolyon Jenkins asks why our children are hooked on the computer game Minecraft. Does its alternate universe stimulate creativity, or make them disengage from planet Earth?
To the adult onlooker, Minecraft might seem to be a low-resolution digital version of Lego, albeit one where you never run out of blocks and they never topple over. Yet it's very different: here you can walk among your own creations, play online with other people who are in the same world, and battle monsters when they come out after dark.
But many parents worry that their children find the Minecraft universe so rewarding that they are losing interest in the real world, in face to face contact, or in non-screen-based play. Even when not playing the game themselves, millions of children enjoy watching other people playing, in Youtube videos.
And there's a darker side to Minecraft - one in which children are "griefed" by having their digital property vandalised or stolen, and older teenagers go online specifically to bully younger children and post the resulting videos. Minecraft seems to be inducting children into a world with property but no policemen.
But the things children are building in Minecraft are extraordinary, and their commitment to understanding the game and mastering its technicalities is impressive. Rather than having a moral panic about it, maybe we should be harnessing children's enthusiasm and taking Minecraft into schools, as some educationalists propose?
Presenter/producer: Jolyon Jenkins.