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Is Minecraft Good for Your brain: Does it Make You Smarter?

According to research conducted in 2018, most UK kids will spend an average of four hours a day looking at screens. If that’s to be believed, and there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be, it’s crucial to make informed and conscious choices about the type of media our kids consume.

With video games making up a large proportion of this screen time, it’s no wonder so many parents want to know more about the popular Minecraft game. A particular concern could be whether Minecraft has the capacity to make kids smarter, be an IQ booster, and ultimately good for their brain.

Here’s our take on things…

Does Minecraft make you smarter?

As far as non-violent, educational games go, Minecraft is arguably one of the best. It can teach kids the fundamentals of programming skills, teamwork, problem-solving, project management, and offers a fantastic environment to foster creativity and “out of the box” thinking.

Because of this, there have been various studies and opinion pieces that point towards the idea that Minecraft can make you smarter.

For example, a study in 2017 conducted at Glasgow University linked playing video games and Minecraft to future university success. Their research found that people who played the game were able to show increased communication, adaptability and resourcefulness scales, compared to the control group – all skills that are seen as being key for graduate success.

Most of these benefits are owing to how the game is structured. With no real storyline and limited direction on how to play, children are mostly free to decide how they want to interact with the game.

Is Minecraft good for your brain?

We believe Minecraft can help your brain. One of the researchers behind the Glasgow University study also believes this, and made the following statement to the Daily Mail newspaper:

“Playing commercial video games can have a positive effect on communication ability, adaptability and resourcefulness… suggesting that video games may have a role to play in higher education. The study also suggests that graduate skills may be improved in a relatively short amount of time, with the gains reported here achieved over a period of eight weeks and representing just 14 hours of game play.”

For children particularly, it could be said that the activities in Minecraft can make them smarter and even get them ahead at school.

For example, when starting a new game on Minecraft, players will be presented with a randomized map, made up entirely of blocks. It’s a bit like a LEGO project, as these blocks can be removed, rearranged, and used to build something entirely unique.

When faced with the blank canvas of a new world, children can choose to build their dream house, a castle, a hidden underground sanctuary, a town, a farm, or anything else their hearts’ desire.

As children continue to explore, they’ll find that they can produce devices for making mundane tasks more manageable. With the addition of Redstone blocks, children can build completely customizable machines, and in doing so, learn the fundamentals of coding – which is an essential skill for future careers in the UK.

With the option of multiplayer, children can also play with friends on a shared map. Doing this promotes clear communication and teamwork as players divvy up building spaces and communal tasks. Although children on their own can produce some fairly impressive projects, working together can result in genuinely breathtaking pieces.

Does Minecraft increase IQ?

Whilst we can find no studies that definitely state a kids IQ can be increased by playing Minecraft, we certainly agree with the educational benefits this game can offer.

All in all, there are plenty of possible IQ benefits to playing Minecraft, but here are some of the best that could be good for your brain.

1. Encouraging creativity and project planning

Perhaps the most striking benefit offered by Minecraft is its endless scope for creativity. It provides many of the same building opportunities as LEGO, only with an average of 921.6 quadrillion blocks per world. With that much material, it’s possible to build just about anything that your kid could imagine.

If in any doubt, just take a look at Westeroscraft. Arguably one of the most expansive and breathtaking Minecraft projects around today, this community-based project is dedicated to recreating the continent of Westeros, from George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series.

Pretty much any screenshot from this project is mind-blowing, especially when you consider the time, planning, and sheer dedication it would have taken to get this far in the project.

Although it’s unlikely that a younger child will churn out something of this scope, it does go to show just how much you can create with the materials available in Minecraft. The sky truly is the limit when it comes to this game.

2. Reinforcing problem-solving skills

Although most games will promote problem-solving skills to an extent, Minecraft is unique in that it allows players to set their own goals and offers an enormous amount of freedom in how they meet challenges.

As an example, the one challenge universally faced by players in standard Survival mode is finding shelter and a reliable source of food. Although it’s relatively safe to wander about the world in the daytime, at night, the world is populated with monsters.

Without shelter, players will either need to run or fight until sunrise, when most of the monsters will erupt into blocky flames. Doing this without decent equipment is a challenge and can be pretty exhausting, so unless you’re committed, it’s usually not worth the struggle.

However, when it comes to building a shelter, there are countless options, depending on the player’s goal and play style. They could carve out a small burrow or construct a simple dirt hut and wait it out until daybreak. They might continue digging down and spend the night mining.

Alternatively, they could commit to building a home, which could range from a simple wooden hut to an elaborate fortress.

In addition to this, players also need a reliable source of food. An empty stomach impacts the player’s health and can lead to the character dying if left for long enough. Although players could always hunt for food, it’s also possible to build crop and livestock farms.

In our experience, part of what makes Minecraft so good for reinforcing problem-solving skills is how simple the game is. A lot of the tasks needed to survive long-term can become monotonous with time.

However, they can also be automated in some way, and this encourages children to think outside the box since there are no in-game tutorials for fixing these problems. This means that have to use their brain more than any other video game we’ve ever encountered.

With the addition of Redstone, which allows players to code their own devices, the options are virtually endless. With this versatile block, players can create automated farms; quicker transportation; elevators; doors that close automatically; booby traps; and hidden entrances.

We’ve even seen purpose-built mini-dungeons, designed to spawn specific enemies for the items they drop when defeated.

3. Basic programming and logic skills

If you’re looking to introduce your children to programming, Minecraft could be an excellent starting point… kids grow to love Minecraft very quickly due to the simplistic nature it initially offers.

Although it won’t teach your kid a programming language, using Redstone blocks will introduce them to the fundamental logic of coding. This in turn makes Minecraft good for their brain and could be said to make them smarter…

Redstone introduces IF, THEN, ELSE, and END functions to players, which can be used to build mechanisms that range from relatively simple to ridiculously complex.

Kids can learn to progress from automated doors, booby traps, and elevators, to fully functioning mini games. These enormous, self-contained structures in the sky allowed them to play a variety of games, which included capture the flag, hide-and-seek, and tag.

Many of the video game designers of today got started with Minecraft. It’s a great introduction to the game design – we mention this in our short guide on how to get your kid started with making their own games.

4. Teamwork and communication

As kids get older, they can progress to playing Minecraft on shared servers with their friends. Playing together on Minecraft can teach them to work effectively as part of a team. It also demonstrates very clearly that by working together, kids can do so much more as a group than they could ever hope to achieve alone.

For example, they might decide to create a new map together. As part of this, they might vote to tackle the shelter and food problem by building a massive farm together. Kids can divide up the necessary tasks between themselves; one in charge of foraging, another in charge of building the basic structures they need, and a third in charge of mining.

Aside from teaching kids to respect each other’s projects and things, it can also teach them to solve problems for the people around them.

5. Reinforces social skills in Autistic children

Aside from promoting teamwork and clear communication, many parents are reporting that Minecraft is hugely beneficial for children on the autistic spectrum. By giving them an environment that strips away challenging social factors (background noise, eye contact, social queues, etc.), it allows autistic children to more easily make friends and improve fundamental social skills.

In A Boy Made of Blocks, Keith Stuart tells of how he was able to better connect with his autistic son through Minecraft. He had struggled at first, as his son was socially awkward, but by playing together, it gave him an avenue to learn about his son’s passions and interests.

6. Resource management

When playing in Survival mode, players will quickly need to learn resource management. Finding and gathering the right resources for specific projects takes time, with the most valuable blocks being the rarest to find.

Diamonds, for example, take a specific mining tool and often require players to dig as far down as the level will allow them to go. Even then, it can take half an hour or more to locate a diamond vein, which will typically only provide eight blocks.

Players will quickly learn to manage the resources they have and to be sparing with what they use. Trees that are logged will disappear forever unless replanted. Even then, they take time to regrow.

Animals can be hunted but will become scarce with time. To help with this, players can capture animals and manage them as livestock. Doing this can give players a steady source of eggs, wool, and meat.

Whatever the goal, Minecraft is an excellent way of teaching children that resources are limited and need careful managing.

7. Patience and perseverance

A crucial component of resource and project management in Minecraft is patience. Even in Creative mode, where the player has access to unlimited blocks of every type, it takes enormous amounts of patience and perseverance to complete an ambitious project.

A large project can take anywhere from a few hours to a few months to complete. In light of this, children will often need the perseverance and self-discipline to see their projects through to the end.

However, owing to the freeform structure of Minecraft, many children may not even feel like they are learning these crucial skills and possibly getting smarter in the process.

Aside from this, Minecraft often requires patience and dedication to find the rarest of blocks, such as Redstone and Diamond. Managing farms, woodland, and livestock take time, and many of these tasks are not instantaneous.

Later on, as children learn to build traps and complex mechanisms, they will need the perseverance to work through failure. When a device fails, they will need the patience to step back and figure out why.

All of these are skills they will pick up naturally while playing since they are all crucial for succeeding in the game.

FunTech’s Minecraft coding camps

We have been at the front of Minecraft education for years. Our summer camps in London and the South East of England have seen thousands of kids pass through our doors.

At our camps your child can receive the Minecraft tuition they need, but also create long-lasting friendships and team with the other children in the class.

Our Minecraft tutors work each summer, with our tuition classes being:

  • Average of 8 to 1 student to Minecraft tutor ratio
  • Ofsted registered
  • Accept childcare vouchers
  • Running from 9am to 5pm
  • Structured learning
  • Over 24 years of experience
  • All venues within reach of easy transport links

The current courses available are:

Minecraft with Mods – ages 7 to 10

This creative and fun Minecraft summer camp is packed full of learning, experimentation, problem solving and creativity.

Once your child has mastered the secrets of Minecraft such as brewing potions and conquering the Nether – they will learn how to Mod a variety of different items that will take their Minecraft skills way beyond the basics.

Minecraft Engineering with Redstone – ages 9 to 12

Redstone is Minecraft’s equivalent of electricity.  We start by teaching how to use this energy to create the different logic gates.

Your child will then learn how these logic gates can be combined to create different circuits and complex electronic items such as calculators, elevators and more. They’ll use all the skills they learn to design and build an amazing adventure course full of challenges, surprises and puzzles that players must navigate through!

Want to know more?

We hope this has given you enough of an insight into what FunTech can offer. There’s lot more to see in our courses section – we don’t just offer Minecraft coding camps.

At the core of all that we do are three principals; fun, education, and safety. We believe that at the end of our weekly courses you child will have learned invaluable skills, and could even be that Minecraft has made them smarter!

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