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Minecraft Has Outgrown Video Games | by Christian Behler | SUPERJUMP | Oct, 2020 – Medium


From education and art to content creation and community

Christian Behler

Since its release in 2009, Minecraft has undoubtedly become one of the most successful video games ever. But it is so much more than just a game. Because of its sandbox-style and countless different game mechanics, Minecraft shines in many different areas from education to content creation.

Village- and farmhouses with fields and a city in the background in Minecraft, image by Christian Behler.

One of the big topics in traditional education is gamification. It means introducing video game elements to learning environments to motivate the students. Minecraft does this in inverse. It is a game, but by playing it you can learn a lot about many different topics:

Electronics

Minecraft is the perfect tool to learn about electrical engineering. The Redstone mechanics in the game are a one to one representation of logic circuits, which are the foundation of all modern microcontrollers including computers. You can literally build a computer in Minecraft.

I personally used Minecraft to get a better understanding of logic gates. For my computer science degree, I had to take an electrical engineering course and at first, I struggled, because it was very theoretical and I couldn’t see what was going on. But when I built a few components in Minecraft where I was able to observe the individual wires turning on and off and see how changing something affected the result, it clicked and I passed the course.

An 8-bit adder I built to get a better understanding of logic gates, image by Christian Behler.

Architecture

You can also learn a lot about architecture by playing Minecraft. When you want to build a realistic-looking structure, you think about the foundation, the placement of supports, and how to divide the rooms. Although there are no real physics in Minecraft, a building that isn’t properly supported is going to look wrong.

Additionally, you will get an understanding of the features of different architectural epochs. From the pillars in greek temples, over arches in gothic cathedrals, to modern high-rise buildings, every epoch has a few distinct features and after a while, you will recognize different styles not only in the game but also in the real world.

Biology

I shall never be poisoned! Image by author.

I also learned some biology from Minecraft. When parrots were first added to the game they had to be fed chocolate chip cookies to be tamed. However, chocolate is poisonous for parrots, so it was changed in a later update. Now, parrots are tamed with seeds, and feeding them a cookie will kill them. Because of this, I and millions of other Minecraft players will never poison a parrot by mistake.

Language

Minecraft is a good way to learn another language as well. If you’re playing the game in English, for example, you already know the words and phrases for in-game items. But seeing the item names in another language enables you to pick up a whole new vocabulary. The extent of this is limited by the number of items in the game, of course, but I’m pretty sure there are a few English words I only learned from playing Minecraft.

Building in Minecraft has become its own art form. Creating structures in a blocky world with limited textures and resolution is not easy and requires good abstraction. But some people have mastered Minecraft building and can create amazing environments. The overall Minecraft building talent has come along way from the early dirt huts.

When working on an area in a Minecraft world, you also use a lot of traditional art and photography skills, like sightlines, perspective, and foreground/background elements. This also translates to fields like map and level design.

And finally, Minecraft is just an absolutely amazing creative outlet. Coming home after a stressful day in the office, there’s nothing like immersing yourself in the peaceful Minecraft environment.

A peaceful environment around a campfire, image by Christian Behler.

More than 11 years after its release, Minecraft remains the unrivaled king on YouTube. In 2019, Minecraft has racked in more than 100 billion views on the platform, almost double of what the runner up Fortnite managed to get (60 billion views).

Because of its sandbox gameplay, it’s the perfect game for content creation. All of the storytelling is left to the creativity of the players and creators. You can only watch one content creator play through a traditional story-driven game, but you can easily watch a plethora of different Minecraft Let’s Plays.

There are big communities like Hermitcraft, a Minecraft multiplayer survival server entirely filled by content creators. They manage to use the game to create interactive storylines, almost like a Netflix series with viewer engagement.

Besides creating content for YouTube or Twitch, it’s also possible to create content within the game itself, like custom adventure maps, PvP mini-games, skins, or resource packs.

Partially fueled by its massive success on YouTube, many Minecraft server communities have formed over the years. From 2b2t, a massive anarchy server without any rules, to smaller, more private groups. With many different game modes and rulesets, there is a place for everybody. Whether it is building in creative mode, competing in PvP matches, or just playing survival mode.

Minecraft is also a game for all ages. Unlike Call of Duty or Counter-Strike, hardly any parent is going to object to their younger kids playing Minecraft, in fact, many parents can play the game together with their kids.



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