Academic journal article Young Adult Library Services

Minecraft Programs in the Library: If You Build It They Will Come

Academic journal article Young Adult Library Services

Minecraft Programs in the Library: If You Build It They Will Come

Article excerpt

Minecraft first came onto the gaming scene in 2009 when beta accounts were made available for some to test drive the program. It wasn't officially released until two years later during the winter of 2011. Since then the game has virtually gone viral with teens and adults. The popularity of Minecraft quickly spread to the teen customers who frequent the teen lounge at Darien (CT) Library. As a result, it wasn't too long before Minecraft caught our attention in the Teen Services Department. The common interest in Minecraft between geeks and jocks, girls and boys, goths and preps, and other unlikely cohorts is remarkable. In this way Minecraft creates the perfect opportunity for building a new program with a diverse group of teens who are already in your library.

What Is Minecraft?

Minecraft is like a virtual and ongoing game of Legos. Players mine for necessary materials in order to thrive in the game. You simply move blocks and build upon them, gathering supplies as you go. As a player gets better and gains wood from trees, wool from sheep, meat from pigs, and diamonds from the earth, the possibilities for gathering new materials and resources become greater. The game can get even more complicated if you are so inclined, allowing players to create their own modifications (mods), which leads to learning essential programming skills.

Minecraft was originally created by a Swedish programmer named Markus Persson, and is now maintained by his company Mojang. Mojang regularly provides updates to new and improved versions of Minecraft.

The program is often described as a virtual sandbox in that players have the freedom to alter the world and create how they play within the game. Everything you can ever imagine has been created in Minecraft from pop-culture riffs on The Hunger Games arena to an entire virtual world based on the best-selling Game of Thrones series--just two of the amazing recreations already in place. The Internet is rich with forums for players to discuss strategies, give advice, and host competitions. The community that sprung up around this game is a seemingly endless group of content creators, and those that are the most excited about it are definitely teens.

There is so much you can compare Minecraft to, and yet there is nothing quite like it. The basic need to hunt and gather is so primal and innate in humans that it just clicks with teens. The game is about survival and keeping watch over your property. That natural instinct to look after one's goods is not foreign to humans in everyday society. The critical thinking piece of the game is huge.

Players are constantly faced with choices that need to be made. If you don't make good choices, it affects your chances for survival and affects your quality of life just the way it does in real life. Making good choices really is a constant struggle for adults and teens in their own lives on a daily basis.

Teen Communication and Minecraft

The amount of communication that goes on both through the text function on the bottom of the Minecraft screen and the verbal conversations that sail over the computer monitors is incredible. Every day we observe as teens type away into the Minecraft text box (which is basically like IM but with some code thrown in to the mix), talking to each other and giving each other demands. The computers in the teen lounge are situated around a large circular table in the middle of the room; therefore, teens who play Minecraft are all sitting near each other. While typing to each other within the game, they also carry on verbal conversations with one another in the room. Some of these teens go to school together, but most weren't friends before they came to the library and realized that they had Minecraft in common. Some are freshman, and others are seniors who probably wouldn't have given each other another look if it weren't for the connection they found when playing Minecraft at Darien Library. …

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