Above are shots from one of Sean’s three worlds in his Minecraft Realm. Realms are privately owned multiplayer spaces where Sean builds, crafts, and plays, along with friends he invites to join. They Skype sans video to talk while they play.
Craft Island is the name Sean gave to a template that he chose for creating his “economy realm.” Here, he is the Mayor, and citizens use Minecraft resources to buy, sell, and trade for goods. Sean says that Craft Island contains a mixture of era-based technology from the Stone Ages to Modern, but is based in the Future.
Side Story: Four Years of Gaming
Cubbiebearsean is a gamer tag that evolved from a nickname that we gave Sean when he was a few days old. When he was 4, he started playing Hot Wheels racing games, Zen Golf, and other games like Angry Birds. When he was 5, I purchased and downloaded a copy of Minecraft for PC for $27, and I did so with great parental fear. This is because I did not grow up gaming, and in fact did not use a computer for the first time until college in the early 1980s – and that was basic DOS word processing and emailing. I might have played Pacman once at a shopping mall arcade. All of my computer skills were learned later in employment positions.
I remember the first time Sean played Minecraft after watching Stampylongnose on YouTube (aka Stampylonghead and Stampy Cat). We both became frustrated as Sean’s Minecraft character fell into water and couldn’t get out. It would be months later and hours of YouTube, watching a myriad of Minecrafters playing before we attempted the game again. But, when we did, he was barely 6, and I was blown away by how he just started playing. He taught himself.
He remained on singleplayer for a few months, and spent some time navigating Roblox games before returning to Minecraft, where he really took off building a complex city. By age 7, we were looking for multiplayer servers, and purchased a Realm. He was also Skyping with friends while playing with them on Minecraft and other games. Meanwhile, somewhere before and after turning 8, he had amassed a plethora of PC games of various genres, and we inherited an Xbox 360, further expanding his gaming experiences. Throughout the latter 3+ years, he has continued watching more YouTubers than I can readily name. He has also continued to swap and share knowledge with his gaming friends via Skype and multiplayer gaming. They teach each other.
As a whole life learner, Sean was playing games and learning from YouTubers around the clock, literally, for three years (during which time, he picked up math, organically). We have never limited his screen time. Now, at 8.5, he is ready to teach other kids who might just have parents that are like I was when he was 5, terrified of a seemingly complex video game or stymied by a culture of gaming YouTubers, memes, popular skins, and esoteric terms. Just thinking about it left me feeling overwhelmed and out of my era, league, generation – you get the idea. But, being with him day in and day out has exposed me to enough through observation that I understand the game and its processes, at last.
At an age when I didn’t even know what a biome was, he speaks of becoming a professional gamer, hacker, coder, and programmer – and says that he wants to pursue a degree in computer science. I’ve told him that the landscape for such degrees will be vastly different by the time he is a teenager, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes strides in that direction well before his schooled peers are even thinking about their SATs (let’s hope such arbitrary testing has been abandoned by then, as more universities are seeking self-directed learners over honed academic resumes). I’ve also told him that within a decade, one should be able to navigate the higher education process according to self-customized learning, something that already happens by large degree for many life learners.
Each citizen of Craft Island has a choice of one or multiple jobs at the various businesses that they’ve designed and/or constructed. They each have one or multiple homes. Sometimes they sell their homes or change their jobs, especially to follow their changing interests.
Below are shots of Sean’s various homes. One features a tree house with a farm, boat dock, large screen TV/armour room, practice shooting range, and an elegant hot tube and pool that spills out into the surrounding waters. To create this home, he used TNT to blow out part of the mountain and built the house partially on the water and into the rock face. Another of his houses is a smallish “modern home” with an exterior water feature and Ender Portals (these lead to another world within the Realm – the Ender). Yet another features a grand façade that he built up from an existing structure within the template. This one also has a water slide, and a complex elevated road system with a runway.
(Vegans beware, animals hang as his “slaughter-house” just off the mountainside above the rock-face house. They actually bungee jump up and down within the game as opposed to just hanging there. Alas, when you kill certain animals in Minecraft, related meats appear for you to collect for food.)
Craft Island has a floating restaurant designed by Sean and shaped like a Kraken (mythical giant squid). “The Kraken Express” serves Sushi, and French cuisine. The restaurant has a movie theatre section (presently featuring a still frame with a man holding a telescope). The Island also has an underwater motel shaped like a shark with rows of beds and computer stations by windows with underwater views.
Craft Island also features another “regular” restaurant, giant diving board, pet store, jail, general merchandise store, citizen homes, a museum, mini games park, pirate ship, helicopter, hotel, fighting arena, lighthouse, sand sculptures, and a work-in-progress apartment building.
The island flag has green and black stripes, represented on the pirate ship and other aspects of various builds, and in honor of Sean’s favorite YouTuber’s signature colors (these are also the primary colors of Minecraft).
While Sean added a specialized weapons, armor, and tools shop to one of his homes, he and his friends further designed three existing structures to create the primary store – the Craft Island Store, the light house that is converted to a friend’s home, and the arena that is designed to represent different worlds in Minecraft Realms belonging to he and his friends.
The island also features a complex security system including Iron Gollums on land and actual working turrets in the water that shoot flaming rainbow arrows. Security is a real issue in Minecraft due to random mobs such as Creepers, Skellies, Zombies, and Spiders.
Sean built a museum on Craft Island in honor of contributors to our fundraiser for a trip to Chicago. The museum is called the Chicago Love Museum. Inside are name plaques for certain-level contributors. Behind the museum he added a Skyscraper with King Kong (we’re getting our cities confused here, but that’s totally aside from the genius and creativity these kids exhibit day in and day out in these Realms). He also designed flags, hotel suites, and named pets in honor of specific-level contributors.