Technology advances really fast. It’s hard to predict what the world is going to be like in twenty years when our children will be entering the job market. Giving them knowledge that we can be sure is still going to be useful in a few years is incredibly hard. That’s why we should provide them with skills that will always be on demand in the market like creativity, analytical thinking and problem solving skills.
This kind of preparation is also essential for a programmer – often defined as the profession of the future (for whom everything is an algorithm and can be trained), by playing… Minecraft. Apart from being simply enjoyable as a game, it can also help your child learn how to code!
On their official site, we can read that it’s an adventure game that enables players to build constructions out of textured cubes. However, we were able to see a greater potential in it. It lies not only in the game itself but also in the children’s approach to games in general. As we all know everyone, especially at the young age is keen on learning new things through play. Games like Minecraft already compete with parents and school when it comes to getting kids’ attention – and most of the times it’s the latter that lose. Most children would rather play games than do homework. But the question we asked ourselves was: how can we turn it into a good thing?
Programming in three ways
Thanks to Minecraft everyone can become a hero that fights with monsters. We can build our own world by gathering and using available resources to build different constructions that let us survive. It has surprisingly a lot in common with programming. Programming is writing in ‘computers language’, which means creating commands that result in particular activities in the created software. Minecraft enables us to code in three ways:
Minecraft is a perfect example of how binary system works, showing the way computers think. The big advantage of the first way of coding that’s connected is the fact that this element is already a part of the game. Turning on the creative mode in the game, instead of building the world from scratch (obtaining resources etc.), allows us to focus on how combinations that we’ve build work. For example making electric circuits that supply power to the door switch of our building.
We can also experiment with simple logic gates (the base of how computers work). Minecraft allows us to create constructions in which two conditions have to be met for the particular action to occur. For example, building a lamp connected with two switches. The lamp works only when both of them are on.
Another way of programming in Minecraft is creating the so-called plugins in one of the coding languages, for example, Java or Python. That way we can write a program which will build something or perform a certain action for us in just few seconds. It’s nothing else but process optimization. When our child instead of doing it manually chooses to create a program that will make it for him – that’s the point he or she starts thinking like a true programmer.
Crossing the borders
Third and last way of coding goes one step further. Instead of operating only within the game limits – extends them. Again, it’s about writing plugins, but this time ones that can change and enrich game’s reality according to our needs. Not just helping us build inside already existing world. That includes creating our own blocks with desirable characteristics, or new monsters that will help us gain some respect among classmates.
Technology is increasingly playing a role in today’s world. As a result, demands for IT specialists in the software development field grows as well. As a software house, we know from firsthand how hard it is to find qualified employees who not only know how to program in required languages, but also approach problems in the right way. Reacting properly to obstacles as well as finding creative solutions is crucial in software development. Same applies to Minecraft – creating our own world we have to face problems. Some of them are part of the game like earthquakes, some we create ourselves for example by building thoughtless constructions.
Through exercises like Minecraft, kids learn to analyze problems carefully, make thoughtful decisions and verify their accuracy. All until they succeed. This ability is highly valued in the tech world. In the future, it will be fundamental in any profession in connection with knowledge and tools development. However, we can already notice that creativity and logical thinking are often more desirable than knowledge.
If you don’t want your children to become passive consumers of the digital media, give them an opportunity to build this world on their own conditions. To help kids use Minecraft to learn, we have to sit down with them, and sink into this world together.. Especially at the beginning, it’s important to support their actions by setting some goals and suggesting possible solutions. If your child builds a safe house, encourage him to add doors or a light switch. You should also teach him how to plan – independently create paths and goals, which he will successfully achieve. This simple way can motivate children to go beyond imposed schemes and help them to develop valuable skills.
This article was originally published at Mam Startup