Minecraft Camps in Adelaide: Game Truck Australia reports
Posted on May 12, 2014
This is Minecraft like I’ve never seen before. Minecraft Camps have been running for a few years around the country, but this is the first time I’ve had the chance to observe one in action. I was lucky enough to have a fantastic nephew to take along so I got an insider’s view, and I loved what I saw. The energy in the room was incredible, and Tim handled the event perfectly. The preparation and systems behind it all were great to see.
As with any tech-heavy event, the start was bedlam. While many kids were obviously proficient with Minecraft (and even had their own laptops), some kids had trouble logging in; others struggled with getting their mouse or other tech working. However all this was resolved pretty quickly with Tim’s introduction and the kids were able to get down to the real business: fun. A fantastic peer-learning system of Coaches and Moderators meant that kids were able to help each other with any problems they were experiencing, which worked really well and took some of the load off the adults in the room.
The session was pretty open-ended, and the day was pretty much open to the players’ self-directed learning. Some were happy just exploring and learning some of the basics of Minecraft: the multitude of gameplay options in the the Buddyverse (the bespoke server designed expressly for these events) was more than enough to keep players occupied.
However, for those who wanted a bit more structure (and to be more goal-oriented), there are a series of challenges at different levels (wood, iron, gold, and diamond) with associated rewards (in-game money). These reward achievements like building structures or crafting/collecting particular items, and the earned money is then used to buy in-game packs. Three hours is not really enough time to really properly get into this challenge structure, but for those players who felt they needed some direction it gave them plenty to do. The full-day camp on Sunday definitely gave a lot more latitude for full exploration and a variety of gameplay and challenges.
As in any learning environment, there was a high level of diversity in the room. It was super-exciting to see girls involved, and there were very different ages and levels of proficiency (both digital and Minecraft-ial) present. On Friday Tim held an “Asperlutely Autsome” Minecraft Camp designed specially for players on the autism/Asperger’s spectrum, and events like these are great to see.
Despite this diversity (or perhaps because of it), every single kid in the room had a fantastic time, and some learned a great deal about themselves, others, and the game. Minecraft is a system which is accessible to all gameplay preferences and ability levels: it opens itself to whoever is receptive. Minecraft Camps are enormously popular around the country and are likely to become more so, as they are clearly a great vehicle for learning and engagement, as well as just a great way to pass the time.