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It’s no secret that our kids and teens are wildly fluent in computers and video games. In fact, those may be their primary languages, and the lenses through which they see the world. At the library, we have many patrons who are excited by the possibilities of their children learning more about the technology in their lives, but there are still some who harbor some skepticism about their kids’ relationship to computers – and in particular video games.

There seems to be an eternal struggle between parents and children when video games are involved. Parents wish for games to be less time-consuming and to have more educational content, and children want their favorite games to stay, above all else, fun. While there may be further questions about the ethics and qualities of games in general, this debate the proper ratio between distraction and information will likely never disappear. One game, though, has transcended these generational divides over the past few years and proven itself both as a tool for entertainment and education. That game, of course, is Minecraft.

For the uninitiated, Minecraft is a resource-management game that involves the player mining and farming their resources in order to build structures and create the rudiments of civilization. Over the past five years, it has sustained its place as the most popular computer game for children. Kids love being able to build their own world, manage their own supplies, and explore their terrain. The game teaches basic principles of architecture and geometry, not to mention its subtle instruction in practical mathematics. All of this is done transparently – Minecraft never stops to teach the player, but rather lets them develop their skills organically.

We at the Library adore Minecraft, and it has become an important part of our programming. Teens can come to our weekly club, which meets every Friday night from 6-8. More information can be found here. But for our younger patrons, each Wednesday at 4, the Library hosts Minecraft groups for children aged 8-12. We alternate each week between creative mode (where players build freely with unlimited resources) and survival mode (which features management and enemy monsters). Signups begin each Monday on our website.

As STEM education becomes more and more vital in our schools, video games can play a valuable role in teaching children the skills they need. A game like Minecraft proves how important they are now, and indicates how much more important they will become.

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