Problem Solving is Good! Gaming is Good!

In this age of electronics, many parents worry that their children have checked out of society.  Hours seem to be spent glued to a screen, and interaction with live people becomes a low priority.  Then someone tells you, “Games can be educational,” and all you can think is “Really?!”  Trust me, the right games can be educational in ways that you would never expect.

The words “Minecraft” and “Fortnite” can be confusing.  You know that they are computer games, but not a lot about what they are like.  You may have stood behind your child and been perplexed at what is happening on the screen.  Without going into loads of detail about each game, here is what your child is getting from them.

Minecraft and Fortnight are games of creativity and problem solving, both as an individual and with others.  Creativity is most often seen in Minecraft’s “Creative” mode.  People will spend hours creating their own worlds, with buildings, geography, and inhabitants.  Some will even recreate their favorite locations from movies or real life.  The artistic skill needed for some of these projects would blow you away.  Both book over for Fortniters.jpgcreativity and problem solving can be found in Minecraft and Fortnite.  Minecraft has a mode called “Survival” where you must create dwellings, farm food, and make weapons to fight off the monsters of the night.  Fortnite is like a giant game of paintball where players must set up the terrain and the team’s position so that their side can wipe out the opposition.  This can be played solo, or with people from across the globe.  In both games, you need to work together to succeed and survive, and the more creative you are with your terrain (creating traps, choosing the location of your headquarters, etc.), the more successful you are.  At library programs for these games, you will hear the kids talking to each other, making plans and assigning tasks amongst their group.

Some people get so into the games that they want to learn about all the possibilities available to them in the game, so that is where books come into play.  Many books have been written on these games.  These include every terrain type, weapon, and item you can possibly get, and how to get them.  Many also include “cheat codes” to use in the game, so you don’t have to go through the long process of getting high powered items.  I have seen kids grab a stack of Minecraft books to review so they can make really cool stuff the next time they play.

While it is still screen time, these games do bring a lot of creativity, problem solving, and social skills into play.  Plus, kids can meet others their own age at the library programs who share similar tastes, which can translate to friendships outside of the library setting.  And who can’t use more real-life friends.

Christine Martin-Resotko, CADL Mason