Minecraft can be played on a console or a pc but for this version I used minecraft PE (pocket edition) and played it on a tablet. Minecraft has different modes which change the structure of the app. Creative mode is a simulation mode. Survival is a game mode and adventure is a developers mode that can be either simulation or game based. The important difference with adventure mode is that it protects the structure of the game from players purposefully or inadvertently destroying the build. Tne app features the ability for customization in building your own world, or computer generated builds and even the option for purchased elaborate builds. In creative mode the goal is to explore and build. In survival mode the goal is to survive, collect trophies and level up. In adventure mode specific games can be played that others have built or that you build yourself with command blocks and other tool features in the game.
The Game play aspect of minecraft in survival mode is very difficult. It doesn’t come with a tutorial, at least not in the PE version. Basically you play in creative and discover what all the tools do then when you enter survival you start from scratch and have to find and build everything you need to survive. The good thing is you re-spawn when you die. The bad thing is, unless you put your resources in a chest which you have to make or find, or buy mods and add-ons you lose everything you have gathered. I wasn’t very good at it.I like the different modes and levels because it is like scaffolding. Beginner uses creative, then you can adjust the level in creative from peaceful to easy to hard. Then you can go into survival and again you can adjust the level. You can also start with small worlds so you don’t get lost.
It also follows the Self Determination Theory in being able to customize your avatar, cause and effect of your actions and the ability to join others via the internet in game play. This last option I have not tried but I have watched my daughter play with her nephews on their gaming system in two person mode. There is Intrinsic Motivation in being able to create your own environment. This is what appealed to me the most, however when not in peaceful mode I was very upset when “creepers” blew up my creations- the creeps. Extrinsic Motivation is involved in survival mode because you can earn trophies that you can then display and if playing online others can see. Ther is no distributed learning per say in Minecraft. It can be developed and used for learning, in fact there is an educational publication, “Unofficial Minecraft Lab for Kids: Family-Friendly Projects for Exploring and Teaching Math, Science, History, and Culture Through Creative Building (Hands-On Family)” that offers plans for lessons designed by educators. It also explore gamification and game design. Yes it is on my Christmas list but I may not wait till Christmas.
Since the game doesn’t have a “how to guide built in it does improve a students Testing/Spaced Retrieval skills. Otherwise you have to buy books, watch other peoples videos they have made on youtube, search the internet or just learn by doing and exploring. It does have a set goal which is named in one of its modes, to survive. The rules are not as clear as to how you survive, maintain health and what goals you need to achieve to succeed at survival unless you invest in guides or are guided by other players. This cooperation aspect of the game is very popular among many players. I appreciate that you have choices to play independently, privately with a friend on a console or in a large social setting online as the game is adaptable to different preferences and needs.
The aspect of survival gives minecraft the escape theme but with the ability to develop games in adventure mode and work with other online players the race theme is also possible. This increases the opportunity for competition themed play. Collecting, acquiring, and allocating resources in minecraft survival mode is really the core of the game, from mining to farming, logging down trees and using all these resources gathered to build tools, homes and keep yourself alive is all part of the core of minecraft. There is Mystery and discovery in the villages and mansions and strongholds and temples that the game can randomly generate. Defined parameters, such as creatures spawning at night or in dark spaces, allow for strategy where you can predict outcomes, prepare and plan for timed events and allocate resources. The ability to create new and unique structures is what appeals to me most in the game. It is very visual based but to tell you the truth it took awhile for me to recognize the block colors and symbolism and I appreciated the text based descriptions.