Last year, a local home-school family was taking the long drive south of the Twin Cities, to a location in Bloomington, so the siblings could participate in a Minecraft videogaming gathering. Minecraft is the top-selling PC game by number of all time. It originated in 2011 as a creation of Swedish game designer Markus Persson. It’s now developed through Mojang (Microsoft) and can be played on Xbox or Play Station, on a number of devices, phones, or on your desktop computer.
Julie Chancellor says it is also an educational tool that has limitless creative aspects. As a home-schooler she might run through a home history lesson, for example, and then have the kids build a Minecraft structure in the style that you would see during that era. The game is as complicated or as basic as you want it to be, dependent on the gamer’s imagination. Minecraft animals can levitate and come out of eggs. Scenes are three dimensional made basically out blocks, and contain movement or not. You can be in an ocean or on dry land.
Contrary to popular myth-- video gaming doesn’t have to be all about lone escapism. Coming together for Minecraft day was something the Chancellor kids anticipated, so they got to thinking why not do one in their local area?
Working in tandem with the East Central Regional Library (ECRL) staff, the Chisago Lakes Area Library got approved as a location where the Chancellor family could volunteer and share their expertise. Minecraft Saturdays were first offered last year and continue this winter. The January session last week was overseen by Thomas, 14. in the role of Minecraft “genius.” He patiently gave instruction on nuances and hidden tools in the game and helped newcomers to the Minecraft world learn the ins and outs of the keyboard. Thomas is usually accompanied by his brother Zach, who was under-the-weather last week.
The chance for the youngsters to give back to their community and interact with other Minecraft fans has been a positive thing, said mom Julie. Minecraft provides for interplay on the screen among computer users. The dozen or so kids at the library last week were not only eventually placing their Internet selves onto screens of other players, they were chattering away like a roomful of senior center cribbage players.
Chancellor said there’s ordinarily a full room for each session, the reservation is made per child so everybody has a computer station. Minecraft takes place the first Saturday of the month. Each session there’s a “challenge” (a project) last week’s was to build a roller coaster. The only rule is gamers can not destroy another’s creation.
Each computer is on one server so they are connected as a cluster, each labeled with a name so if the user travels to another screen, the name appears. There is no cyber-bullying or mischief tolerated.
Chancellor said the Chisago Lakes librarian saw value in offering this program, and has super to work with arranging for the laptop computer stations to be available, and scheduling the public space.
Sign-up is on the ECRL website.
Minecraft Saturday is free, and it runs from noon to 2 p.m. The gamers will range in age anywhere from grade school to mid-teens.