Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Lord of the Minecraft

I wish I had actually read The Lord of the Flies, because then I would know for sure if the title for this entry is accurate.  Somehow I managed to go my whole educational career without having to read it, and some might say that it was a lucky miss. But I digress, this post is about the descent into madness and chaos that my Minecraft club took on Monday.  It was awesome. 

Here is how it all started: At the beginning of my Minecraft club I informed the members (four grade 8's three grade 6's and one grade 5 who was absent for this meeting) that their world would not be available for the second week in a row, and that we would be in the alternate 'world' again.  I also let them know that I got an email from @liamodonnell letting us, @MzMollytl and I, know that he had given his own club the option of being in creative mode or survival in our shared world.  I let them know I would do the same for them too.  Up to this point our clubs were survival only.

I expected the possibly of having creative mode in our joint game would make them happy, but much to my surprise all but one said they would prefer to stay in survival mode.  They were very insistent that survival mode is the only 'real' way to play.  The one student who asked to be in creative mode was given a pass from judgement because: a) he was in a younger grade and b) he was working with another member of the club and they just figured they would share the resources to build their base together.  Being younger, and using creative mode to build a base, was deem acceptable.
Then we logged in.

As the club members got their bearings and started making plans for what they needed to accomplish they also began to notice what the other club (Highland Heights) had done when they played in creative mode.  They saw the different building materials and things that they had been able to use: there were crazy looking treehouses, (one with tamed wolves in it), another with a lava 'waterfall,' suspicious looking cavities in the ground and TNT left piled in different areas to name a few.  Two members who were struggling with building a treehouse, that they had begun last week, were the next to ask for creative mode: "just so we can finish the building and then we will go back to survival."  Lest they be judged harshly by their peers. The group accepted this and continued with their construction.  

Then one of my members asked to blow up some TNT.  We discussed it, and I caved, stressing :"Just this once, and not too big!"  I have to say, I usually don't give in so quickly but they were finding TNT deposits in areas and craters, so there was a precedent.  From there things started spiraling into chaos.  It was actually kinda amusing to watch.  My students who, at the beginning, were so adamant that survival mode was the only way to play Minecraft properly  started to come to the dark side.  At around the time of the first explosion, the club from Agnes Macphail also joined the server.

Everyone who had creative mode started getting creative -go figure.  It got to the point that it was no longer practical to  play in survival.  Especially if you wanted to survive more than 5 minutes.  Lava, Ghasts and TNT were everywhere.  Only one student in my club retained their survival status, and lived to tell the tale.  Like a post-apocalyptic movie he decided to abandon the destruction on the surface of the world and began again underground.  I think one student from Agnes Macphail stayed in survival mode too, but I do not know how they managed. 

All in all everyone had a great time.  Although I feared what the Highland Heights club would find if they logged back into this world.  What I really found fascinating, was how quickly the members of my group changed from: "creative is cheating!" "look at these people using creative, they need to stop" to  "I'll try creative" and "give me creative mode!"  Anarchy!

Is this an example of why students shouldn't play in creative mode at school?  No, I don't think so.  This is just the activity that can lead to so much more.  As the students were leaving they were talking about how much fun it was to go crazy in game, but they were glad they would be able to go back to their own world  soon, and get back to 'work'.  In their conversation there was so much material that could lead to more deeper conversations.  Why is it okay to destroy a world that isn't 'yours'?  Doesn't it belong to someone?  What about the environment you are effecting?  Are there examples of your in-game behaviour in the real world? What would be the impact of your actions if this was the real world?  And so on...  There are opportunities to  connect this event to Social Studies, Science and Technology, Language and even Health and Physical Education.

All in all, good game. 

Below are some pictures of the chaos.

Cross posted on: gamingeducators.pbworks.com  on Denise's Club Journal