After starting out as a humble little indie game, Minecraft quickly shot to superstardom and eventually ended up as one of the most successful and most recognizable games of all time. Along with the complete creativity the game offers and the always-helpful community, Minecraft draws its success from being easily accessible to virtually anyone. It doesn’t matter if you’re a wide-eyed grade-schooler or a 30-year-old gaming veteran – the game doesn’t have a set demographic.
Now, Mojang and Microsoft, who bought the property a few years ago, are taking the game’s open-ness to a new level with the upcoming Minecraft: Education Edition. This version, which uses Minecraft: Pocket Edition as its base, is specifically tailored for teachers and students. The Education Edition will provide teachers with a more interactive way to reach out to the minds of students.
And as for the students? Well, they’ll get a kick out of the enviable opportunity to play video games at school. Which is a luxury 20-something young adults would have killed for back in grade school. But what, exactly, does Minecraft: Education Edition entail?
An in-game classroom
Provided everyone is equipped with a PC or a Mac with the required specs, a classroom populated by up to 30 students can simultaneously log into a single server. Within the game world, students can work in groups of at least two to work on solving problems and building projects according to the teacher’s instructions. Alternatively, a student can dive into a classmate’s world to work together.
Teachers can create non-playable characters (NPC) to act as their stand-in or “substitute teacher” inside the game world. This NPC, presumably modeled after the teacher’s good looks, can relay instructions to the students in the game and point them in the proper direction. In-game chalkboards, which come in three sizes, can also be used to further provide information.
And as for the lessons, teachers are pretty much free to tinker with the game, which still features the vaunted open-ended gameplay that other versions offer. There are some pre-existing lessons available, too.
A much better-looking school portfolio
Students can take screenshots and build a portfolio to show off their projects or work – either to their proud parents or to their crush who sits next to them. A portfolio built on a video game is a lot prettier to look at than pieces of paper with consistent A+ marks. This portfolio also doubles as a sort of archive of the things that a student has learned which can be easily revisited for review or nostalgia’s sake.
Much easier access
Minecraft: Education Edition is more beginner-friendly than other versions of the game. Which is a necessity because, despite the technology-inclined world we now live in, not everyone has had the experience to toy with video games. Especially much older teachers who have yet to discover the difference between a PlayStation and an Xbox console.
The game has a Tutorial World that provides an easy-to-grasp walkthrough on the gameplay mechanics. However, this version is strictly limited to computers and is not available for other gaming platforms such as handheld consoles or smartphones. Specifically, the game needs a Windows 10 or OS X El Capitan to run.
Minecraft: Education Edition will release in full this coming November 1. The game requires a measly $5-per-user yearly subscription-like fee.