Sunday, October 16, 2011


Yesterday at Edcampto  I had my most interesting conversation about Minecraft yet.  A teacher described what happened with Minecraft in his classroom. It was a powerful story.

In his class students built a Minecraft multiplayer server and then spent the entire year building and playing in that world.  Their heart and soul went into it.  For non-Minecrafters I don't know if you can fully understand what this means, but players will get it.   For Minecrafters the world they create is as real as the world they live in.  In some ways it is more real because players have a level of power, control and creativity that they do not have in everyday life.

One student played  for the entire year but never shared with the rest of the class what he was up to. At the end of the school year they found out.  The student had spent the entire year collecting enough dynamite equivalent to the force of the bomb that fell on Hiroshima and then he used it.  He blew up their world.  It took over 7 minutes and the entire class watched as their creation was destroyed.

I am in shock just hearing it.  That day in class ... what was it like?

I am looking for some insight into this part of Minecraft and what happened. Could players comment?
Keep in mind this is an educational blog seen by students.


  1. Wow! I gotta give props to the teacher that brought education to the students in a new way! Great job! As for the student that collected dynamite for a year... that is quite a task (as you need to kill A LOT of Creepers and collect A LOT of sand to make that much dynamite!).

    My initial reaction is two fold: first, I guess the students on the receiving end learned that you can put your heart into something and it can be taken away by a single person. Second, I feel the student that 'blew up' the world sees the power of destruction.

    This is a powerful example (both as an example of video games in the learning environment and a good view of social interactions). Control, no matter the circumstance, can be overpowered by an individual. Also, creation is the the art of expression... but perhaps destruction is the greatest expression of creation. Create a big enough boom and all the work in the world can not prevent that destruction. Anyways, enough ranting lol- but thanks for the post!

  2. Thanks for your comment. Reactions seem to be falling into two camps. Those who are completely horrified and those who are not quite sure what to make of this. Certainly without the full context and voices of the students involved it is hard to know how to respond.
    I do feel that those who actually play Minecraft will have a different understanding of what happened compared to those who don't and in particular those who are non-gamers.
    I will be discussing this with my coplayers at school tomorrow.

  3. The student initially got the idea from

    The class agreed to let it go off at the end of the course, I suspect partly out of curiosity, and partly out of gamer bravado. Much analysis of the server occurred as they ran it, but then things got quiet.

    Once they could get a clean render again, and began surveying the damage, you could have heard a pin drop. Later I caught a couple of them looking through pics like

    No History Channel special could have had a more immediate impact. The best part? Nothing whatsoever to do with course curriculum (TEJ4M - Computer Engineering).

  4. Thank you so much for providing context for what happened. This post prompted intense reactions from many people. Having the details makes it even more fascinating. When I shared with my Minecraft Club players were awed by the scale and the amount of work accumulating all that dynamite required. They were just as stunned as I was when I first heard. One student summed it up like this, "On the one hand it would have been really cool to watch. On the other hand that would have really sucked." Everyone wondered why the server didn't crash.

  5. Hi Heidi,
    I heard this story from @zbpipe and I have two contrary but co-existing responses:
    1) How cruel of that student to destroy the labour of love the rest of his classmates put into that world! Didn't he realize the ramifications? The "what happens after"?
    2) How incredible was it for that student to make learning so real! No one ever knew what he was up to? Why? We teach lots about war, vengeance ("geez, why was the WWI peace treaty so punitive? why not forgive and forget?") Like @tk1ing wrote (*waves*), this taught the class much more than any history lesson, character education / values assembly, or lecture ever will.