The Benefits of Gaming for Adults
EMA - Empathy Minecraft Academy
5 Ways a game like Minecraft is good for Adults
I run a Minecraft server as a hobby, but I am also a Counselor, so I enjoy thinking about the different ways my server can benefit people. I am a long-term gamer so I know the many ways in which games can help us get through tough times or just get through boredom, entertain us, challenge us, and frustrate us. Minecraft is an exceptional game, however, with one of its best features being the incredibly open gameplay and easy configuration of plugins (I do not have an IT degree and I can do it).
Minecraft has been hailed as a great educational game for kids. Since 2009, Minecraft has sold over 20 million copies. Articles have been published about How Minecraft Teaches Kids Real-World Skills and even about why parents should play Minecraft with their child.
But what about adults? Here are five reasons Minecraft can be good for grown-ups as well.
1) Minecraft provides an opportunity, albeit a virtual one, to hook up with friends with cognitive benefits. In Friends with cognitive benefits: Mental function improves after socializing Diane Swanbrow writes:
Talking with other people in a friendly way can make it easier to solve common problems, a new U-M study shows. But conversations that are competitive in tone, rather than cooperative, have no cognitive benefits. “This study shows that simply talking to other people, the way you do when you’re making friends, can provide mental benefits,” says psychologist Oscar Ybarra, a researcher at the Institute for Social Research.
Sure Minecraft can be played competitively, but most people play it collaboratively. The combat mechanics are way inferior to most other games, but for interested adults who want to work with friends over time to build real masterpieces, Minecraft is a great platform. People can audio chat using software like Teamspeak Teamspeak or Ventrilo Ventrilo to discuss strategy, chat, and problem solve. v
2) It's cheap (26.95 USD) but once you buy it, servers are FREE! Servers can vary so much from one to the other that it's literally like discovering a new game every time, and unless you donate you don't have to spend money out of pocket to play on these.
3) We may not live/work in a fancy place we like, but we can in Minecraft! Players make digs for each other and they can be splendid; my players make me perches that, like my Romanian mom used to say, would make a cat stand on its tail. They are fancy, they are fun, and they are sophisticated. Texture packs help make the relatively drab default graphics as fun and snazzy as you want depending on your computer. Hey, it's not the same as living there, but it's the next best thing.
Image of Maridian City: a town on my server where a player made me a penthouse perch. Perches are like hangouts where I and other players are safe to go AFK (away from keyboard). So far the server has over 20 perches with quests and activities at most of them.
4) It can be EDUCATIONAL! For kids and adults as well! Yes, there is a MinecraftEdu for schools, but adult content can easily be integrated into Minecraft too. A lot of it can be done using command blocks, provided by the game itself, while a lot of content can be integrated using thrid-party plugins that are easy to configure.
For example, Dying to Learn is one educational game I created using command blocks which teaches the top 100 words on the SAT. I used a questing plugin, Quester to create a quest for Mr. Sesquipedalian's English Class, which teaches a new word every day based on the top 1000 words on the GRE exam. Players can collect items with names of content and definition as "lore" and use these items in composition or in various games that are specified on the forums. These games promote learning through repetition; for example, having one's avatar killed by a blade enchanted with the information lets the whole server see the word and auctioning off an item allows players who type /auction info to see the lore (definition). A 9 year old put up all 100 swords and wrote the words and their definitions on signs (pictured) without even realizing he was learning - to him it was just a fun "job" he did in Minecraft for one afternoon. The majority of those who collect the loot and engage in the learning are older teens and adults.
5) The level of precision is mind boggling. This is where Minecraft's potential for adults really shines; you can really be as sophisticated and complex and detailed as you want to. Want to leave it all behind when you log out, then play on a server where your claims are protected and just log out. Want some things to happen in your absence but not a lot? Make a shop. People can buy items and interact with you that way while you're gone. Want to really bring people to your area? Create a quest for your site and make nearly anything happen.
For example, you can make detailed quests that require people to touch a particular block at a particular location. This means you can have employees that "clock in," quests that complete only if someone else initiated a sequence (say, they operated the bus that now arrived using a plugin like MoveCraft), or adventures that provide certain education or activities only in your area. The level of intricacy is nearly infinite so adults can really engage their micromanagement fantasies; they can keep detailed records, provide jobs to new players, run casinos, and entire businesses.
So next time you see Minecraft don't think of it as just a kid's game. It has a lot to offer adults also, including educational opportunities.
Do you play minecraft as a grown up? Why? How does it help you? Do you have any ideas for educational content for adults? Please discuss and share!