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Mining lessons from the successful Minecraft game

One of the best selling video games of all time does not have any weapons and no blood. It does not score the points. And the graphics do not try to give a realistic appearance. It's called Minecraft and, since its debut in 2009, has sold more than 176 million copies. More than 91 million people play there every month.

Correspondent David Pogue invited Minecraft to tour with his 14-year-old son, Jeffrey, who described the game as "a virtual world where you can build and destroy items and play with friends."

It does not seem to bother Jeffrey that everything in Minecraft looks a bit rude and bulky – like a virtual Lego. "This game makes everything simple and very easy to understand," he said. "There is nothing complicated."

building to minecraft-620.jpg
One of the best-selling video games of all time, Minecraft, contains no firearm, but big building blocks – a virtual Lego universe.

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The simple appeal of Minecraft made it a phenomenon. Thousands of kids come to attend Minecraft conventions, like the one at Minefaire which was held recently in Los Angeles.

Lydia Winters, Brand Manager at Minecraft, has been a key player in the growing popularity of Minecraft. "I was the eighth employee and the first woman to work on Minecraft," she told Pogue. "Every year, we said to ourselves:" Is this the craziest year? "And then the following The year was even crazier. So it was an incredibly wild race all the time. "

In 2014, Microsoft bought Mojang, the small Swedish company that makes Minecraft, for $ 2.5 billion. "We were all thinking: What's going on now?" Said Winters. "But it's unbelievable because I think what Microsoft has done is that they've been very helpful in bringing in elements we wanted to work on, such as education, but not having the number of people to work on. "

That's right: from mathematics to chemistry to history, some teachers see the benefits of playing Minecraft in their classes.

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Steve Isaacs is a teacher at William Annin Middle School in New Jersey. His Minecraft game design class is a compulsory course for Grade 7 students. "We are training children in an environment they love – they love games – now they are creating their own games," said Isaacs.

During Pogue's visit, the class used Minecraft to create mini-games based on well-known fairy tales.

His students took fairy tales and, as they say, "Minecrafted."

Isaacs says that in his class, Minecraft has done more than give his students the basics of computer coding; it changed lives. A typical example, student Brian Green. "That's where he shines," said Isaacs. "And coding, he's doing things in this game that I could not understand."

Brian Green with correspondent David Pogue in a class of Minecraft.

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Pogue said, "I hear you're kind of a star in this class."

"Apparently, yes," smiled Brian. "I agree with this statement! I think I'm a non-traditional learner.And this course is taught in a very non-traditional way.It's very, very practical.In Minecraft, just click for me, works like my brain, and I love it. "

Brian is even considering career opportunities as a game designer. He could for instance follow in the footsteps of another former Steve Isaacs student: Jerome Aceti, better known by his nickname online, JeromeASF. You could call it a YouTube celebrity. "I guess so," laughs Jerome. "I do not like to think so much!"

Five and a half million people watch his videos on YouTube, most of which show him playing Minecraft in his stories. YouTube displays ads on these videos and gets a percentage of revenue. "Yes, it's just the opposite of what my parents have always said:" Do not play video games. "It never goes …!" But no, it worked and I am very happy and grateful for that! "

Pogue asked, "What do you think of the future and the direction of Minecraft?"

"I really believe it will be the first video game of our time to break the generational gap between future and future generations," Jerome said.

The director of Minecraft, Lydia Winters, would probably agree: "We will turn to many future architects and future designers who say:" Minecraft is what inspired me to build this real building, because in the game, use this incredible digital canvas where you can create anything you want. "

But is it planned to make it higher resolution, more realistic, instead of just bulky blocks? "It's going to continue to be big blocks," laughs Winters. "We think it has worked so far, so we should really continue like this."

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Story produced by David Rothman.

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