First of all, @jesslm, we have a collaborative LAN world called “#NOCHEATS” that was created by two students and myself last November. I host it from my laptop, but it’s becoming problematic because when 4+ kids are playing simultaneously, it crashes often. We have discussed the possibility of buying server space or using Art or Geva (ALCNYC parent)’s existing server capabilities to host it and other worlds so that kids across the ALC network can play collaboratively. While I don’t have the expertise to set such a thing up, I’m happy to hold coherence for the project once we go back to school on the 8th.
I really have no qualms about screen time. As someone who grew up playing video games (mostly nintendo ones), I know what it feels like to sit there too long and feel “high” from playing. Because of the immersive nature of Minecraft, it’s easier to sit for hours and get lost in the tasks you want to complete. Now, I certainly don’t advocate sitting in front of a screen all day. I’m starting to get fatigued just typing this response… haha. But seriously, there is mega value in Minecraft and I will advocate for it any day. I think facilitating it, especially by playing with interested kids, is super important. Attitudes and ways of living “in the cube” are reflected in our human reality, and as such it’s important to set a good example as a facilitator and to make agreements amongst players beforehand. This is a great opportunity for kids to see (analogously) their power to create their own communities with agreements that work for everyone. For example- I decided to become a vegetarian in Minecraft both for increased efficiency in growing food and because I wanted to live as peacefully as possible. I kill only hostile “MOBS” (monsters) and never kill other players.
I think that letting humans figure out their own threshold for gaming is important, so I’m not going to set limits or propose screen-free days unless kids decide they want to do that. I think that having an experience of playing “too much” or “too long” is good for us to feel out what the right balance is. Logan, a 9-yr old from ALCNYC figured this out in about a month after he started playing Minecraft everyday. “Ryan,” he told me, “Be careful. It’s really easy to get addicted to Minecraft. I was for a while, but now I don’t play as much anymore.”