Video games have earned a bad reputation for creating socially inept people with undeveloped social skills. The thought process behind this antiquated notion comes from the vision of individuals isolating themselves to play a game alone in a room. But Minecraft has changed the minds of many parents today.
The culture of the game goes on within the servers themselves. Kids become admins and learn the rules of social etiquette. They have to know when to ban a player and for what offense. They learn to understand that with power comes responsibility and that nobody likes a tyrant. They must learn to communicate and interact with other players. They deal with anything from helping new members, dealing with highly effective hackers and griefers. Everybody in the server community must take on roles and responsibilities to keep it viable.
Players learn to work together to gather food for the community, build stores to sell armor, weapons and food, build amusement parks and engineer new cities. The player learns to maneuver through different personality types and problem solve while dealing with disputes between players. They learn to respect the wishes of others, communicate their own wishes and come to agreements on what is going to happen within their world.
Minecraft allows the player to learn all of this from the privacy of their own room. These roles are mirror images of those they will encounter in the real world. “It extends kids’ spatial reasoning skills, construction skills and understanding of planning,” said Eric Klopfer, a professor and the director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Scheller Teacher Education Program
Minecraft is used as a teaching tool in many schools. Psychologists praise it for encouraging creativity and social skills. Dr. Andrew Przybylski, from the Department of Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford, has spent a lot of time observing how children play Minecraft, and believes that one of the reasons it has proved so popular is that it demands social interactions.
Dr. Przybylski explains, “From a psychological perspective, it’s important that the player asks how to make, say, a kiln. Not because that has anything to do with making a kiln in real life, but because it teaches you how to start conversations with your peers. If you don’t know how to do something, it demands you to admit you don’t know and to interact to find the answer.”
Minecraft aids in the development of real soft-skill (character traits and interpersonal skills that characterize a person’s relationships with other people). It might sound dramatic to say it has changed the way a lot of children see the world but, on some level it has.