Minecraft is a computer game that is often described as a ‘sandbox game’, meaning that it has few rules, no organised play and the players are free to do what they like, go where they want to and interact with the game in whatever way they choose, within the mechanics of the game.
You can play Minecraft on a computer, smartphone, tablet, XBox or PS4. There was even an educational version of Minecraft developed called MinecraftEDU which allows teachers to run whole classes in Minecraft with specially created educational worlds that can be downloaded.
Microsoft are now developing a new Educational version called Minecraft: Education Edition which is free to try until September, and looks to secure the future of Minecraft as an educational and learning tool.
Why is it so popular?
Since its release in 2009, Minecraft has quickly become one of the most popular games in the world. As an indie game built by a very small team, Minecraft’s success isn’t down to massive resources or a carefully planned advertising strategy. So what explains its popularity with children?
Minecraft has been described as a game with no rules. It doesn’t come with a set of instructions, or a stated objective – players can build and explore however they want. It’s often compared to virtual Lego.
This means that Minecraft fans have a lot of flexibility in terms of how they play. Users can recreate an existing fantasy world or build a new one from scratch, they can fight villains and seek adventure, and they can play alone or with friends. It can also be played at any level. In a lot of popular games, you need a certain amount of skill to move on to the next challenge. This can be frustrating for young kids who don’t always have the abilities or unrestricted time required to make real progress in a game. In Minecraft, children can create their own adventures at any level of play.” (parentinfo.org 2016)