Kids find educational and social opportunities in Minecraft Creative League
The Squirrel Alchemy Esports Club facilitates a positive video game culture for Springfield-area youth. One way the club achieves this is by holding tournaments such as the free Minecraft Creative League. Jamie Harris, the league moderator and founder of Satellite Gaming, says that Minecraft provides both a social experience and a creative outlet during a time when kids have been separated from their friends and some of their hobbies. “If we can get students to collaborate and hang out together, but also make it educationally-focused, we can really enrich the lives of students through video games,” Harris said.
During the first Minecraft Creative League, Harris issued a weekly theme like United States History or Prehistoric Times. “The participants did a ton of research to create worlds around those weekly themes,” Harris said. “I was shocked and impressed by how much time they spent researching and creating with friends and family.”
For example, during the United States History challenge, one team built a view of helicopters flying over a World War II scene. “The kids had to research — what type of helicopters did they fly back then? What did they look like? What sort of landscape would the helicopters fly over?” Harris said. “Even difficult educational subjects like war, when we can put them in the context of a creative video game, become interesting in a new way.”
Other teams made a Statue of Liberty, a museum dedicated to the life of Alexander Hamilton, and a scale model of Fort Astoria. “Some kids are artists, other kids are researchers, and others just like to be goofy with their friends,” Harris said.
Kids loved interacting online during the live-streamed weekly evaluations, Harris said. “Those organic moments were so cool. We want to grow that relationship-building aspect and help kids build teams and friendships.”
Harris ultimately wants to create a place of positivity in local video game culture. As a lifelong gamer, he attests to the impact that gaming has had in his development and relationships. “We can create mentorship and friendship opportunities, and opportunities to learn discipline and practice, just like in traditional sports,” Harris said. “If esports is what kids love, we can engage with it in positive ways.”