Minecraft is full of vital lessons about life and money, if you dig deep enough into it.
For the uninitiated, Minecraft may look outdated: it has 8-bit graphics, absurd game modes, a dizzying number of servers, and other out-of-this world elements (creepers, diamond pickaxes, and nether quartz, anyone?).
But while the massively popular first-person sandbox game may not hold a candle to most hyper-realistic games released today, it excels at one thing: being a useful learning tool. Especially for the millions of tablet-toting kids, including thousands of kids in the Philippines, hooked to Minecraft Pocket Edition’s (PE) quirky gameplay.
While Minecraft’s biggest selling point is fostering creativity—think of the game as a virtual Lego, except that you have an unlimited number of resources to use in one of the game modes—it can also teach kids about the value of resources.
In real life, this could translate to becoming savvy with money. In what ways, you ask?
Working your way up
In Minecraft, you start with a literally empty world. No weapons or tools, no gems or food, and only you to fend for yourself.
To start building your shelter, you need to gather materials from different sources and build your inventory—for instance, you have to break wood blocks and mine cobblestones to have something to construct your own house with—a decent bed included.
You also need to create items and equipment out of gathered minerals for a higher chance of survival. Creepers (zombies), giant spiders, and bow-and-arrow-wielding skeletons abound at night, and they can attack you even in the comforts of your own home.
In this game, kids are exposed early to a reality of life: If you don’t work for resources, you’ll never get to advance.
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Recovering from failure
Aside from menacing artificial intelligence-controlled elements, other dangers in the Minecraft universe can take away your precious resources.
The game can also be played on multiplayer mode, and on various Minecraft PE servers—or an online network hosted by other players—where you can either fight or team up with other human-controlled players in a survival-of-the-fittest style battlefield. “Dying” from environmental damage or attacks will cause you to lose all your inventory, your items scattered on the spot where you expired. This means you have to work hard to get back to the exact same spot to recover your lost items. Now that sounds like a valuable lesson on having to start all over again.
Expanding your skillset
If you want to survive the Minecraft universe, you need to peddle your skills to earn more resources.
For instance, if you’re good with building structures or farming, you can put your skills to good use to earn in-game currency like emeralds and other materials. You can use these to get ahead in the game. Learning how to leverage your skills will give you an edge over other players.
Spending your resources wisely
As the game progresses, you’ll need to purchase more items for your quests using the in-game currency you’ve earned.
While it can be tempting to just buy whatever you want in the game and dig again for resources, you also need to practice extra care in spending your resources. Whether you’re planning to build your own fortification or mulling on getting better equipment, you need to carefully weigh your decisions and look at the long-term effects of your transactions.
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Develop a knack for coding—and earn from it
Minecraft is a game of endless possibilities: everything and anything can be modified to create a customized experience.
If you want to push the limits of the game—to the point of creating your own gameplay, rules, and aesthetics—you have to learn how to write codes. Because of these, kids are forced to read up on coding tutorials online, watch their favorite YouTube gamers/vloggers (who have become real-life millionaires themselves because of the millions of hits they’ve earned), and apply what they’ve learned in the game.
Minecraft may look like just another video game—a very odd one at that—but hidden behind the pixelized graphics and addictive gameplay are important lessons about life and money.
Kids may not notice it now, and neither do their concerned parents, but this is virtually the kind of training they need to progress later on in life. Too bad nobody ever said that about Super Mario. –Dino Mari Testa