Dec 05 2012

When Minecraft Met The Hunger Games

Events, Members

Institute of Play-Playmakers

What does game-based learning look like in the context of Hive NYC?
Youth and educators from Brooklyn Public Library, Global Kids and TeacherGaming came together to explore two popular phenomena—the world-building game Minecraft and the young adult novel The Hunger Games. Together, they created a challenge-based, virtual learning environment wherein youth used MinecraftEdu to explore social themes such as inequality, suffering, and resource distribution.

In a one-day workshop, teens split into two teams, representing The Capital and District 12, and maneuvered their way through a customized mod of Panem developed by teacher/MinecraftEdu co-creater and TeacherGaming co-founder Joel Levin. Teens built their communities with available resources: those in the Capital had access to precious metals and other materials, while those in District 12 had meager supplies. Then, facilitators introduced conflict in the form of hunger and protection. Through play and an exploration of the game dynamics and design constraints, the teens were able to think critically about their actions, experiences and decisions, both in relation to the game and to their lives in general.

Hive NYC Director Chris Lawrence had this to say about the Minecraft Hunger Game Learning Jam: “I had a blast observing and interacting with the participants as they fluidly maneuvered from in-world/out-of-world interactions as well as played and commented on the narrative. I was also hugely impressed with the depths to which teens were willing to reflect and mine the experience for insight into current political issues and concerns.”

This is but one example of how Hive and its members have games on the brain. Stay tuned for more including a few game design jams for early 2013 that encourage youth to participate in the National STEM Video Game Competition (with Joan Ganz Cooney Center).

Here are some additional Hive NYC member happenings at the intersection of games and learning:

Many thanks to JR Sheetz for shooting/producing the video above – he is currently Documentarian at Institute of Play working on the Playmaker series and we’re big fans of his work! Also to Sheila Schofer from Brooklyn Public Library and Barry Joseph, who at the time of this production was Director of the Online Leadership Program at Global Kids and is currently Associate Director for Digital Learning at the American Museum of Natural History. Both were essential in bringing this collaboration to life.

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