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Defining an Impact Game: Minecraft and Engaged Citizenship

This is part two in a three part series on defining Minecraft as an impact game. Did you miss the first post in the series? Check out Defining an Impact Game: Minecraft and Environmental Sustainability!

A server spawn point. Player created shops.

When we apply engaged citizenship to games, we look at the different forms that citizenship can exist in, from games focused specifically on the political process, to games, like Minecraft, that offer instead a way for players to connect and play together, learning more general citizenship skills as they work cooperatively to achieve the goals put forward by the game or though their own play.

The base client of Minecraft boasts a thriving community of multiplayer servers of varying types, where players from all over the world are able to come together and exist in a world together. Many servers create thriving societies and functioning economies, at times nearly indistinguishable in form and function from those found in real life. But this is merely one type of server; many are dedicated to creating huge replicas, from Disneyland to the city of Rapture, from Bioshock. Others are roleplay based, where members take on certain roles in the society to fulfill, acting out stories and narrative arcs. Still others are fighting arenas, where players battle one another to the death.

More recent versions of Minecraft allow for LAN, or local area network, servers. Players can create a game that is playable with anyone who is on the same internet connection, wired or wireless, that they are. Friends and families can connect and play even easier than ever, without the need to know how to create and run complicated servers.

Check out this gallery of images from a long-running Minecraft server!

The MinecraftEdu client for Minecraft, created specifically to bring Minecraft gameplay into educational settings, relies heavily on a built-in server tool. Teachers and educators can, with one click, be in a game and playing alongside their students. Unlike ever before, students are able to work together inside the gamespace in a similar way that they would outside of it, encouraged to share their knowledge and learn from one another as they explore, create, and approach problems together.

Through the multiplayer space that Minecraft offers to all, whether at home or in the classroom, players are able to interact, form relationships, and work collaboratively as they take on the vast world around them. In this way, players are able and encouraged to engage as a productive member of a group, taking on roles, whether implicit or explicit, in projects and play. As miniature societies form between friends and strangers, players are given a unique ability to interact in the game space, making important decisions for the longevity of their own play, as well as that of the server as a whole. They can begin to make connections and choices that they may be faced with in real life, helping them to better interact in their community.

Be sure to check out our blog on Friday, when we examine Minecraft in terms of its relation to educational relevancy.

 How else does Minecraft relate to engaged citizenship? Leave us your examples in the comments below!