Some Surprising Benefits to Playing Minecraft

Popular belief says video gaming is a lazy, mind-numbing waste of time. Stereotypes like this are common, but they’re not exactly accurate.

In fact, studies suggest there are a number of benefits to playing video games. Games like Minecraft can improve learning, motor skills, and creativity. Video gaming actually affects cognitive skills in some pretty surprising ways.
Minecraft is like digital version of classic block building, where players create interesting new environments, then go on adventures with the things they build. Beyond that, the game introduces obstacles to players who then have to devise creative solutions to overcome those obstacles. In short, it’s chock-full of ways for players to hone specific, cognitive skills.

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Here are some surprising benefits to playing Minecraft.

It Encourages and Motivates Learning

Minecraft is often used in the classroom as a teaching tool. Teachers use the game to explain physics concepts, like gravity, or teach students about historic sites. One survey from Australia’s Griffith University asked teachers about the usefulness of Minecraft in the classroom, then studied their responses.

The educators they surveyed showed an overwhelming amount of support for using Minecraft as a teaching tool, and while teachers in all subjects used it, researchers found it was especially helpful in science and math. According to the paper:

“More interestingly is the emergence of science and math as subject areas where Minecraft can be used. Math has a few potential uses in Minecraft. During construction of large-scale projects, learners might need to calculate the number of blocks required to complete the project. Angles and distances can be calculated too, along with speed, weight, and trajectory (projectiles).”

Teachers also reported “high levels of motivation and participation” from students when they used the game as a teaching tool.

Some experts even say it can be useful in learning to code. Rey Junco, an associate professor of Library Science at Purdue University, told NPR:

“…there is a coding element to Minecraft for those youth who do mods. So you can change the game around to your liking, and you can share those mods with other people. One of my colleagues just this past week said, it’s the only way that I can get my young daughter interested in coding. And so here she is on Minecraft doing all of this coding. And I think in that sense, it’s a really interesting equalizer. In my experience, there seems to be more of a gender balance in Minecraft players than other video games, certainly other games like Halo or Lego Star Wars or things like that. And so, in that sense, it can get women – young girls and then women interested in coding and then, perhaps, also in STEM fields.”

Essentially, the game makes learning fun. It makes students want to embrace certain subjects.


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