Minecraft and literacies: do videogames support children’s reading and writing?

I recently came across an online article suggesting that Minecraft and other videogames may support children’s literacy – see here: http://www.wired.com/2014/10/video-game-literacy/.

As a mother of an 8 year old who regularly spends time reading Minecraft handbooks, I am tempted to believe that the author of this article (I don’t know who s/he is) has a point. The books on Minecraft are always displayed in a prominent spot in my local bookstore. They must sell, I suppose. I have seen children bring them to school, to share with their friends

Looking inside the Minecraft books, I can see that they offer detailed instructions, are written in a sophisticated language and use many specialised terms. No doubt, my son and his friends are stretched when they read these instructions. May that be the reason why I also see them frequently turning to YouTube where they watch videos of more experienced and skilled adult players of the game?

And what about other games? Is Minecraft one of the reasonably ‘good’ games, demanding and difficult, with plenty of stuff to learn and thus of some interest to parents and educators? I am reminded of Gee’s ideas about videogames and what we can learn from them. In a recent discussion with my current Masters students we compared different games they know and what literacies they might involve. No doubt, some require more, others less. I wonder how interested teachers are in games such as Minecraft. Do they/can they support literacy?

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