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Tuesday, June 09, 2015


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self hosted servers, simple low tech building, no voice, gameplay in survival mode, free form use in creative. Crafting recipes.
kids played it first. So generation got to experience it, own it (as it worked stand alone too) predlets loved it's look in 2009
(Reposted from my Twitter reply )


One of the key factors imho is Minecraft's simplicity AND its complexity. A small child can quickly learn how to negotiate the space (without lengthy tutorials or clunky viewer software to learn) and get almost instant satisfaction from exploring and socializing, monster slaying and/or building a little house, castle, secret base etc.

Meanwhile at the other end of the spectrum, Minecraft allows for complex modding which has seen developers from around and world and across a huge age range creating their own versions and flavours of the game - from themed servers (Hunger Mines, Harry Potter etc) to Factions, Feed the Beast and PVP.

Additionally the extensive 'metagame' that exists around the game is compelling - from Youtube stars to kids writing epic Minecraft theme stories and beyond, the eco-system of fan created media is endless and amazing and operates from beginner to elite. Kids are able to join that community easily via Twitch, Youtube, Fan Sites and Forums, and via coding communities like Bukkit.

From an educational perspective, tools that allow us to create all sorts of learning spaces and experiences for kids, including out on public servers such as the informal learning community I run for 1200 kids from around the world, through to classroom servers where teachers can manage things in house at relatively low cost and with low levels of drama for IT departments. There are also a range of options that can support kids learning to code or explore quantum physics for example. Unfortunately Second Life and Opensim are still much harder and more costly to implement for most educators, and require much more knowledge / effort.

I love Second Life and OpenSim and work in those spaces too, and sometimes they are a better option for learning. It would be impossible to do some of the more complex simulation based learning we do with students in Opensim on a Minecraft server. However, neither have that perfect mix of simplicity and complexity, nor the amazing community that Minecraft does.

Metacam Oh

cause any schmoe can run their own minecraft server which translates into infinite land and prims without having to pay Mojang 300 bucks a month and a $1000 setup fee

Kara Trapdoor

What Jokay so succinctly said.

Kara Trapdoor

Oh, guess that was Metacam Oh.. who said it succinctly LOL. Agree


Discovery. Danger. Creation. Effort -> Reward. Simplicity. Complexity.

Canary Beck

Jokay's answer argued the educational aspects well, to which I'll add:

1. Gaming: Minecraft offers out of the box game mechanics to those who want to engage in them (e.g. survival mode). Second Life has no built in game-mechanics; users must rely on what other users to make games for them with a limited tool set.

2. Simplicity: Minecraft is easier to understand, use and build in than Second Life, which has a steeper learning curve and requires more skills to use and build in.

3. Accessibility: Minecraft is more technically accessible to users with lower-end systems. Second Life requires high-end niche hardware to really fly. Minecraft works, sometimes SL doesn't work.

4. Cohesion: Minecraft is a closed, self-hosted environment, which users are potentially more likely to invite people they *already* know to experience it and to play with them. This makes it more accessible to your friends, which makes it more interesting to share with a more intimate circle. Second Life is wide open, where everyone shares a contiguous space - so, it can feel less intimate and less private. Users are much less likely to invite friends that are not familiar with SL already - due often to number 2.

5. Cost: As noted previously, a one-time purchase of Minecraft will run you about $27 USD. Buying a region to build in SL will cost you much, much more in upfront ($1000 USD) and ongoing monthly costs ($300 USD).

The good news is that the more I hear about Sansar, the more I see Linden Lab is learning from others, like Minecraft. Sansar will be more accessible, more scalable, higher quality, easier to create and consume, and will offer LL a business model based on micropayments that can scale into hundreds of millions of users.


SL/OS navigation is counter intuitive to the conventions which have prevailed in 3D video games (navigation and interaction).

It’s not that SL/OS is that difficult to grasp it just goes against those conventions used everyday by “gamers” (very very wide demographics). We can’t blame SL designers, to my knowledge they weren’t 3D gamers but that’s maybe why nearly all the people I know in SL/OS are not “gamers” (they don’t have to unlearn/switch mindsets) and nearly all “gamers” I know stopped SL/OS after getting frustrated by the simple goal to navigate and interact in the virtual world.

I have no doubt though that the Minecraft kids (our future engineers) will reinvente OS/SL while still staying compatible with the 3D gaming culture in term of navigation and interaction.

Graham Mills

You speak of the "education space" as if it were a single uniform entity. I'm not aware of any significant formal use of Minecraft at university level in the UK. There is some use of OpenSim and SL although probably much less than was the case 4-5 years ago. Just for the record, you can self-host in OpenSim or alternatively rent a basic region for $20 per month or less without setup.

Eddi Haskell

Easy answer. Because Second Life is incredibly difficult to learn. In addition, viewers are non intuitive and overly complex. And I man incredibly difficult. I have had at least 20 people try Second Life over the years, and I will not exaggerate when I say that every single one of them gave up after two or three attempts. This has been the problem since day one-- only the most committed of users will stick with it.

Graham Mills

I don't think the majority of university students find OpenSim hard to use as far as f2f classes are concerned. Quite the opposite, in fact. The administrivia of getting the viewer started, registering and connecting to grids can throw up a few issues but modding their avatar, moving, finding and interacting with stuff, chatting, even single-prim building and texturing, are straightforward enough at a very basic level.

There is low-hanging fruit to be had like running virtual poster sessions. Much cheaper and less hassle than the RL equivalent with the benefit that you can leave the posters in place for as long as you like, not just a day or week.

However, it is true that students don't use the environment voluntarily in the way that their younger counterparts might with Minecraft. I'm entirely OK with that -- they have busy lives.

Graham Mills

Incidentally, a lot of the administrivia I mentioned could be obviated by the availability of a lightweight web viewer. While a full-on VW experience might not be feasible, it sometimes isn't necessary either. Smoothing access to regions would be a major win.

Julia Benmergui

Rosedale promised us Second Life open source servers that we could run ourselves and failed to deliver.

Kim Anubis

Julia, Philip moved on from SL, but his new company, High Fidelity, offers open source servers.

Metacam Oh

Is Sansa really learning from past mistakes? Are they hosting the servers, controlling the content etc like they currently do? I fail to see how Sansa business model is different from SL, unless they have announced they will let you host your own space with your own resources, then I don't know where this divide in business models is coming from.

Graham Mills

The BB article says that MinecraftEdu is being "rolled out to every secondary school in Northern Ireland" while the Guardian article makes it clear that MinecraftEdu is being offered gratis to the schools for one year. The Culturetech site says that funding covers a server and 20 individual licences per school. It will be interesting to see the level of adoption and support.

There's not a huge amount of relevant content on the MinecraftEdu site http://services.minecraftedu.com/worlds/ and it's biased towards the younger end of the age range. Of course, they may be assuming that (home-trained) students and schools will be generating and sharing their own content and/or that educational benefits are expressed in other ways (creativity, coding, etc).

It's an interesting project but not quite an educational revolution at this stage. Of course, you could say the same for the educational impact of SL and OpenSim. Educational OpenSim OARs/OERs are sadly rather scarce. Expecting schools to do the heavy-lifting is unrealistic. How Project Sansar and HiFi anticipate getting round this issue remains to be seen.

Shockwave Yareach

If the question is why education is interested in minecraft - that's the same reason education got interested in videotape way back when. It is a tech that enables them to teach something better.

If your question is why no mass uptake to SL, consider that you have needed a top end gaming rig, good net speed and considerable money per month to build anything,

Ice Petal

To put it crudely: Minecraft is cheap, SL is expensive. On Minecraft the costs are very low to gain a reliable, fun experience that you have a good deal of control over. With SL, you can join and hang out for free, but anything more than that will cost you, and the more creatively you wish to engage in that world the more expensive it becomes.

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