Official Blog of Center10 Consulting

Lessons From Minecraft: Scenario Planning and Collaboration

on Thursday, April 18, 2013
[Sept. 12, 2014 UPDATE: It's been reported that Markus Persson, creator of Minecraft, is in talks to sell Mojang, the company he built around Minecraft, to Microsoft for $2B. I can't begrudge him his success and well-earned compensation for a superb idea, executed and shepherded beautifully. However, I am one of millions who hopes that Microsoft will understand and protect what makes this phenomenon so special to super-users, occasional dabblers, children and moms alike. 
Below is my post from 2013 from when my children introduced me to the addictive fun and games of Minecraft. - @RoopaOnline]

[Original post from April 2013]
Earlier this week, I was flattered when I was invited to "join" my 9-year olds in their Minecraft game.

Me as Steve in the foreground, and my daughter, also as Steve
showing me how to prospect for minerals
Minecraft is an online game originally designed by a Swedish programmer (Marcus Persson, or "Notch") and went public in 2009. It one of the few games out there that doesn't have a specific goal, allowing players the freedom to do any exploration they wish to undertake. The default character is popularly called Steve, a name suggested in jest by Notch. Steve is a generic, genderless representation of a human. The game has been famously updated with an educational version by the programmer's wife. In 2012, an Xbox version was released, and the kids got in the act. Mine play it on iPads.

Joining means entering their virtual world to hang out, build fantastic homes and fight zombies and creepers. Lots of fun was had by all - some virtual animals may have been harvested, though.

I loved that there is such a high educational element to the game - you have to build your inventory of materials, craft tools and armor, and players can collaborate and share their wealth. It's like a virtual life skills class!

Both kids as Steve - launching arrows at me!
Here I am, being instructed on the basics of digging for minerals and flying while hunting. What struck me, about the whole experience, though, was not all the building and crafting prowess my kids showed. What struck me was the intense collaboration they displayed - these are very normal kids, lots of bickering in real life. In their joint world, however, these were teammates keeping each other safe, choosing art for each others homes, and collaborating to make sure they had the right armor and diamond pickaxes.

More impressively, these were kids who were playing out all kinds of scenarios. The what ifs they discussed reminded me of the best team strategy sessions I've been part of in my corporate life. Data was used, decisions made, agreements arrived at on what danger signs they would look out for.