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Design & Engineering > Game Design


You've probably played Minecraft, but now it's time to create your OWN game in the Minecraft World.

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Created by
Steve Isaacs

MINECRAFT overview

This teaching tool page covers two related resources: Minecraft and MinecraftEdu. Minecraft is a stand-alone video game that can be used educationally, but since it was not designed for these purposes there will be some challenges. MinecraftEdu is a custom-built modification of Minecraft that gives teachers and students more robust controls and features for designing and orchestrating learning experiences. It also streamlines the server creation and hosting process. And while MinecraftEdu increases the learning curve slightly, we think it provides a set of tools that teachers will find indispensable. For more informal or home use, the "retail" Minecraft should be sufficient.

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Experience breakdown

Lesson Plan Overview

In this lesson, the sandbox environment of Minecraft is leveraged to teach design thinking, system thinking, and computational reasoning while encouraging critical thinking and problem solving. Students will create their own game in groups as small or large as they like. The guidelines are minimal as to encourage the student driven aspect of this project. Students are naturally drawn to this game and leaving the possibilities open provides students with the opportunity to flourish rather than feeling confined.

Learning Objectives

The learner will...

  • play minecraft to orient selves with the game and view with a game designer's lens
  • write a design document to develop a clear, concrete plan for the game they will develop.
  • develop a functional game based on the design document
  • engage in the iterative design process by participating in peer evaluation and provide / receive feedback to improve game
  • refine game based on peer feedback
  • publish game and play peer games

Lesson Steps

  1. Students will play minecraft to orient themselves (if they are not familiar) with the gameplay and gain understanding of the open ended nature of the game.
  2. Students will play sample games created by others (i.e. Adventure maps, mini games, etc.) to provide context and perspective on how a game within a game functions
  3. Students will write the design document for their game plan. The game team can be comprised of as few or as many students as the game lends well to division of labor and group work. The design document will cover the following ideas:
    1. Come up with a name for your Minecraft game.
    2. Write a one-paragraph description that will make other players want to download and play it. (This will be a description of your game including a short synopsis of the story
    3. Write a two paragraph storyline (background story) to set the context for your game. This should not tell players how to play, but should provide an interesting backstory.
    4. List and describe any playable characters in the game - this will vary based on the type of game.
      1. If your game is an adventure game played by one player, provide a description of the player (physical description, personality, skills, etc.)
      2. If your game is co-op provide descriptions of different playable characters
      3. If your game is a competitive game, describe the different teams / factions and what their role is if applicable.
    5. List and describe any non-playable characters. Remember to describe each with sufficient detail to appropriately develop the character (include physical attributes, skills, abilitiies, etc.)
      1. enemies
      2. boss(es)
      3. NPCs (non-playable characters that help advance the story typically)
    6. Explain any challenges your player will have to overcome during the story - puzzles, traps, and other map features, but be sure not to give away too many details.
    7. Provide the ruleset for the game. What does the player need to know in order to play the game? Make this section clear and concrete. After reading the rules I should feel like I know what I will be doing when I choose to play your game.

  4. Students will create their game in minecraft. Games may be created in the single player game or on a server. This will vary based on availability and version of minecraft being used (i.e. minecraft vs. minecraftEDU)
  5. Students will play test peer games (alpha test) and provide concrete feedback in order to help peers make games better
  6. Students will revise game based on feedback.
  7. Students will play test peer games again (beta test) and provide specific feedback for improvement during final iteration (this step may be repeated until designer and player are happy with completed game)
  8. Students will revise game again based on newly recruited feedback.
  9. Students will celebrate their accomplishments by playing one another games.
  10. Students will publish final games to share with the minecraft community (this might be in the form of hosting the game on a shared server, packaging the final game for download, etc.)

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