Monday, October 5, 2015

Clarification (aka Moving Away from Minecraft Part 2)

Is the sun setting on Minecraft?
On August 24, 2015, I wrote a blog post about my reluctance to continue promoting Minecraft now that it was no longer an independent product. According to my blog statistics, that post had 41 page views (which is a respectable number for my small blog) and two comments. I received several comments, retweets and favourites via Twitter (thanks Peter, Tim, Liam, Diana, Zelia, Deborah, Cathy, Teresa, and Joel; I embedded a sample tweet below).
My favourite Ontario EduBlog curator, Doug Peterson, even commented on it in his weekly review.

Thank goodness that Doug not only highlights blog posts, but explains his subsequent thoughts, because it led me to write this follow-up post. I have a hard time disagreeing with Doug - I'm not sure that he even realized that ages ago, as part of the "performance PD" at ECOO, we were supposed to "trash talk" our opponents and I struggled with the task because I just respect the old guy too much. On further reflection, I found that I wasn't disagreeing with him so much as clarifying things.

Doug wrote:
 It’s too late to close the barn door here.  We buy by brand and each of the products has built upon the nature of the previous technology.  It’s not just a mouse, it’s sculpted to fit the hand. The tablet has wrist recognition.  The keyboard is noiseless.  Where would I be without corporate involvement and making things easier, more productive, more ergonomic, and ultimately better for me?
I don't know if I'm the best one to comment on this, as I own an iPhone 4 with no intention of updating my iOS, even if it means missing out on Apple Music (or whatever it's called). I don't object to corporate involvement; my concern is not that corporations are telling us what to use, but in the case of Microsoft and Minecraft, telling us how to use.  I received an email from Microsoft advertising "Free Development Tools and Training from Microsoft". One of the portions of the email read:
Build the Best Games
Whether you are building your first game, porting an existing one, or launching the next big thing, Microsoft makes it easy for you to build innovative and differentiated gaming experiences across multiple devices.
I also saw this tweet promoted:
And for something a bit more recent, there's this tweet:

Microsoft Edu (note the handle) wants to get involved in schools in ways like Google (Google Certified Teachers) and Apple (Apple Distinguished Educators) have already, and Minecraft is their way in. A mystery benefactor sent me a nice present via inter-office mail (a Minecraft magazine) and one of the articles discussed the impact that Microsoft might have on the game. Of course, as luck would have it, I've misplaced the magazine somewhere at school along with my notes on it. If I remember, I'll edit my post to include the salient points.

Back to the clarification. Doug asked three questions that I felt compelled to respond to:
  1. Will it being branded and supported by a corporate entity change the experience?
  2. How much change would affect her abilities as a classroom teacher to get the best from it for her kids?
  3. Is this a fight worth fighting or is it just a natural evolution?

Here are my answers:

  1. Corporate involvement changes the experience for me. It doesn't for the students. It makes me feel like every time I encourage the use of the game, I'm indirectly working for Microsoft. 
  2. I don't know the answer to the second question. I've noticed that Minecraft at my school is slowly being ditched/rejected by the older students - it's not as "cool" anymore. It's the younger students clamoring for the re-institution of Minecraft Club. 
  3. What about option C - yes to both? It may be a losing battle, but it's a Don Quixote windmill fight I still want to have. Natural evolution? - Tim King wrote in a tweet to me that "Berners-Lee gave us the Internet . Torvalds gave us Linux. Altruism in tech is the exception :("

What I'm discovering since my original blog post is that it's harder than I thought to walk away from Minecraft - not for me, but for others when thinking of me. My students still want Minecraft Club (albeit the younger students). Several people have approached the GamingEdus about some small projects and we've accepted them. We aren't adding any new schools on the Multi-School or Professional Play servers. I'm still putting distance between me and Minecraft; it's been over five years, after all and I want some new challenges. Maybe since he's been so influential on my growing understanding that I should end with a tweet from Peter Skillen:

1 comment:

  1. Diana, such a struggle, eh?

    A wee thought from the past comes to mind as I read this:
    "You are in charge of your own learning.

    Use your institutions - your schools, your teachers - to get what you want, what you need, what you deserve."

    Although the context was different, something rings true. It's from this post: Minds Meeting Media – Students in Charge | The Construction Zone

    Keep smiling!