Art Carden  

Will "Minecraft Coaching" be a 21st Century Job?

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It's happened. A few weeks ago I finally bought Minecraft for the kids (the Pocket Edition for mobile devices is only about $7). We're still learning the ins and outs of the game, and early going has meant periodic frustration and my wife and I have tried to learn the game on the fly through YouTube tutorials and the like, but while I knew it was an excellent educational resource I've really been surprised at just how great it is.

Our oldest has built multiple houses for himself and various friends and family members, and right now he's working on building a nineteen-story hotel with a working elevator. Obviously, the kids are learning a lot about problem-solving, and it provides a great starter for conversations with other kids. It's also teaching the kids (and us) patience: learning new things can be kind of tough, so we have to be calm and patient while we figure stuff out.

It's also teaching perseverance. On Saturday, I was trying to help our oldest build an elevator he could attach to the hotel he had just completed (the Embassy Suites Hyatt Regency). I accidentally tapped "lava bucket" when I meant to tap "water bucket" and burned the entire thing down. I was impressed with how he handled it: he was really, really frustrated, but he got over it relatively quickly and started rebuilding.

What does this mean for the 21st century economy? Minecraft Coaches will be a thing. This is perhaps a more clickbait-y way of saying the demand for computer science instruction will rise. There are a lot of great tutorials on YouTube and the like, but I wouldn't be surprised if premium content ends up behind a paywall. Parents spend enormous amounts of money hiring experts to teach their kids how to hit a baseball or shoot a basketball. Google showed me that there was a Minecraft summer camp just up the road at UAB. As one blogger notes, there is much truth in this old Far Side cartoon.

As I posted on The Libertarian Homeschooler Facebook page (quoting from memory), you know you're a Libertarian Homeschooler when you get excited that your kids have gotten into Minecraft.

My biggest mistake? Not doing it sooner.


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COMMENTS (6 to date)
Hana writes:

I know it's just the headline, but there were 20th century game counselors.

Every major video game publisher has had a customer service department for years. In the case of PC games initially a lot of the customer service was directed to assisting in the setup of games. Helping customers address the various computer conflicts was a technical skill. On the console side almost all of the customer service was focused on helping players make their way through difficult sections of the game.

On a side note, my children were home schooled and learned to read before 5 by playing RPGs. The NES versions of Secret of Mana, Final Fantasy I and II, Nobunaga's Ambition, and Dragon Warrior were the starting points of their academic lives. Attending Pokemon competitions with a 5 year old was an experience not to be missed. While it was not the same as T-Ball, it had its own excitement.

Christophe Biocca writes:

While minecraft is a good way to develop an interest in computer science, and it has a dedicated following of programmers building incredibly complicated systems, it is not conducive to learning about computer science.

The computing tools provided are simply too primitive (we're taking logic gates here) to allow the player to move up into more abstract work, where all the interesting/relevant stuff is.

Not a reason to bash the game (it still is valuable as a learning tool), but if you're specifically thinking of helping your kids learn computer science/programming, there are some games dedicated to that ("Lightbot" on the iOS/Android stores specifically attempts this, and it's designed by a CS grad from my alma mater) who fit the bill a bit better (although the fun factor might be a lot lower).

Nathan writes:

My wife and I play Minecraft after the kids (still too young to play) go to bed and our other chores are done. We only half jokingly refer to it as marriage counselling. Last night there was a bit of a dust up when somebody was found to be using all of our gold stash to build ceremonial armor. One of our favorite recurring arguments goes as follows:
Me "How do you think we should build this room?"
Wife "We should do this and that"
Me "Okay, but we could also do this other thing"
Wife "... you're just going to do it your way, aren't you."
Me "Maybe."

Okay, I failed to capture the spirit and hilarity of the conversation. We really have fun with it.

I'm interested to see what happens when my kids are old enough to join us (if Minecraft is even a thing by then). As a parent will I be okay "encouraging" my kids to play video games even if it's a family activity? As one of our favorite co-bloggers wrote in his parenting books, it's good to enjoy your kids, right?

teen wolf writes:

Art,

I sincerely hope you reconsider your decision to introduce your kids to violent video games (VVGs). Study after study has shown that gamers have unhappier relationships, are more likely to commit violent crimes, and have negative and harmful attitudes towards women. Even parents that 'game' with their kids as an attempt at wholesome family activity are damaging their kids minds and beautiful souls. Every major school shooter has been a gamer, and this does not include just those that play realistic violence-training games like Counter-Strike or America's Army, the VVG the US Army uses to train soldiers. There are swords and guns in Minecraft, and killing God's innocent creatures is a way to get points in the game. Hitler and Mussolini diverted massive scientific resources to research into "...movie games where I can play as Mario or Halo and kill animals and people in creative ways" (Quote from a Hitler directive that surfaced in Nuremberg). Slave owners in the 19th century and as far back as the Pharaoh were known to force their slaves to roleplay and follow commands in prototype video games; thats how the pyramids were built! You may think that building is innocuous fun, but Minecraft has swords and guns, and gameing causes thousands of years of murder and war. Don't let you're kids become violent gamers.

Tom Davies writes:

@teen wolf, I don't think they had Halo back then -- it was probably Marathon that Hitler was talking about. HTH.

David Friedman writes:

One thing I like about computer games, especially massively multiplayer ones, is that they are a context where the kids are sometimes better than the parents—which I think can be good for both.

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