Free book for boys and reluctant readers
Reading is important
Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him. –Maya Angelou
Most adults would agree that reading is important, but many kids detest reading. Video games, devices, and TV are preferred entertainment and escape. They provide instant gratification. Reading takes time. For some kids, reading isn't engaging.
I had this same problem with my son, so I solved the problem.
The classic stories I remember enjoying as a kid don’t interest my son and his immediate attention span. If he doesn’t enjoy the story from page one, he will not read further.
So how did I get my son to read?
I showed him how much fun it is to get sucked into a story.
Your book is amazing I can't stop reading it – Joseph Young via twitter
Contemporary and Classic titles alike don’t interest many kids. Don’t worry, the love of reading is learned. We need a starting point. We need that one book that is just as engaging on the first read as the fifth, just like a really great movie that kids want to see again and again. A positive association with reading will make kids want to read more.
A love of reading is cited as the number one indicator of future success. My son didn’t have the desire to read. He didn’t care about the books I chose to read to him, and was overwhelmed with the selection at the library. I want my son to succeed, so I had to do something. Since we struggled to find books he cared to read, I wrote one. An epic saga about the things he loves. I put it in a world he loves and addressed the issues he faces in his life.
I just love your books I've been reading them over and over again. -Carson via twitter
But it's a video game book
Don’t worry; it’s not a book about video games, nor is it a game strategy book. Flynn's Log is a hero's journey that takes place inside the Minecraft world that today's kids know and love. The protagonist, Flynn, naturally flows through Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (builds shelter and tools, learns what to eat and discovers a digital friend) and faces questions about his destiny. He learns important life lessons about friendship, integrity, and trust. Flynn's Log is good for kids without being boring.
Thank you so so much for the free ebook. My son loves Minecraft now with this book I can get him to read to me. – Jennifer Wilkins
Start your son or daughter on journey today, reading Flynn’s Log 1: Rescue Island. Free on available these devices and apps.
Why is Flynn's Log 1 Free?
My son loves reading — finally. If you have experience with a reluctant reader then I know your pain and I want to help. I’ve seen thousands of kids transform with this book. My readers, who don’t usually read books during the summer, couldn't put Flynn's Log 1 down.
Good book I thought I would never read a book on my summer but I feel I'm gonna finish it soon – Multigamer 47 via twitter
Let this book change your kid’s life too. You have nothing to lose and an avid reader to gain.
Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.
I am giving away Flynn's Log 1 free because I want to give you a risk-free way to hook your reluctant reader.
Please and I mean PLEASE, WRITE MORE! I absolutely love it! They're outstanding books.
-Devon123321 via twitter
What are Books for Boys?
I spend lots of time with teachers and parents. I hear parents ask, “How do I get my son to read? Do you have books for boys?”
I wrote the Flynn's Log series for my son, and this book is interesting for boys. However, the series is a non-stop read for both boys and girls, especially those who are interested in Minecraft.
The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.
What are you waiting for?
You have nothing to lose!
News for Parents of Reluctant Readers
Get Reluctant Reader Book News from Stone Marshall
Ten years ago today, Minecraft made its debut into the world, marking a significant milestone in the history of video games. Just as we can’t imagine the gaming industry without this universally-loved title, which has now sold 176 million copies worldwide, we also can’t imagine what the video industry would look like without all those MinecraftYouTube videos.
Minecraft-related content has been a cornerstone to the game’s success, driving around 436B views to date on YouTube alone! In celebration of the game’s tenth anniversary, we looked at some of these videos to discover which creators, publishers, and brands are driving the conversation around Minecraft.
The Top Minecraft YouTube Videos of All Time
Minecraft and YouTube Are the Perfect Pair for Success
YouTube has been the go-to destination for content related to the game almost since the game’s inception. In 2015, for example, the game was one of the most-searched terms on YouTube and boasted the #1 spot across the top 20 game franchises on the platform.
While the popularity of Fortnite videos seems to have given Minecraft a run for its money, the sandbox-style building and adventure game is still the #1 game on YouTube. In 2018 alone, around 311K user-generated Minecraft YouTube videos pulled in a total of 45.1B views.
Here are some other stats we discovered about the deep connection between YouTube and Minecraft:
- 5M Minecraft-related videos have been uploaded to YouTube to date.
- On average, these videos pulled in a 58.2K 30-day view count (V30) and a 30-day engagement rate (ER30) of 7.1x, which is seven times the normal engagement rate across YouTube!
- Longer Minecraft videos attract more views: clips of 10-15 minutes pulled in the most views (123B to date), with content that’s 20 minutes or longer pacing not far behind (114B views to date).
- The top five countries by views include the United States, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Russia, and Spain.
- Influencers have uploaded the most Minecraft-related YouTube videos at 4.2M. Brands claim 7532K videos, while media and entertainment companies have uploaded 9806K.
YouTube + Minecraft = one of the best matches in the entire online video world. Anyone can film their gameplay of the title and upload to the platform, while YouTube benefits from all the traffic and advertising on the clips. And of course, this symbiotic relationship gives Minecraft owner Microsoft plenty of free attention on its beloved game.
The Award for the Most Minecraft Videos Goes to Influencers
When a power trend occurs in online video, influencers are some of the first to pick up on it. And Minecraft was certainly one of the first power trends in all of digital media.
As noted above, creators and influencers have uploaded the most Minecraft-related videos to date on YouTube. Among these, four out of the top ten most-watched clips were animated song parodies by popular gaming YouTuber CaptainSparklez.
The video with the most views of all time across influencers is Sparklez’s parody of Usher’s “DJ Got Us Fallin’ in Love,” which pulled in 176M views and 1.8M engagements:
The creator with the most overall views is PopularMMOs with 11.7B total views on content ranging from let’s plays, arena battles, and mod showcases. DanTDM is the second most-watched Minecraft creator to date with 8.5B views, while family-favorite stampylonghead comes in third with 5.9B views.
This data is only the tip of the iceberg. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that without the support of influencers, Minecraft wouldn’t be one of the top-selling games of all time. A note to game developers, brands, and media companies alike: never underestimate the power of a fanbase and what it can do to drive interest (and sales).
Brands and Media Companies Join in on the Minecraft Fun
While influencers are clearly leading the charge in regards to Minecraft YouTube videos, brands and media companies have also contributed their fair share of content. Their 12.3K videos on YouTube have garnered an all-time total of 4.4B views.
Fittingly, the company with the most views on YouTube is the official Minecraft channel itself. At 833M total views, the channel boasts seven of the top ten most-watched videos across brands and media publishers of all time. Minecraft’s most-viewed clip is the game’s official trailer from 2011, which has 139M views (in fact, almost all of the channel’s top videos are trailers or update announcements):
Some of the other brands which showed up in our search included retailer J!NX Clothing(64.9M views), Telltale Games (79.7M views), and LEGO (241M views). All of these companies created Minecraft YouTube videos introducing their own products themed after the popular game title, and in turn, benefited from millions of views and reach.
As for media companies hopping on board the Minecraft train, we’d be remiss by not mentioning two of the top-performing channels of all time: gaming property LetsPlay and its parent company Rooster Teeth.
The former has pulled in the most media company views and engagements to date at 492M views and 7.9M engagements, while the latter claims 369M views and 5M engagements. Rooster Teeth has been making game-related content since before YouTube even existed, so it makes sense that some of the company’s most-watched videos are on its Minecraft content.
Other media companies pulling in millions of views and high engagement rates on Minecraft YouTube videos include animation and cartoon company Mineworks (294M views and 2.2M engagements), gaming media and news company IGN (59.4M views and 632K engagements), and entertainment channel Smosh Games (169M views and 2.9M engagements).
Here’s to More Minecraft in Online Video
Of course, the breadth of Minecraft’s impact in the online video world doesn’t end here. Gamers around the world upload or stream live content related to the title on other platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitch on a daily basis.
But this sampling of Minecraft-themed content on YouTube alone is enough to see exactly why the game is not just so well-recognized and widely-played, but also why it has become eternally ingrained in global pop culture.
Happy tenth anniversary, Minecraft! We can’t wait to see what the next ten years hold.
The Minecraft team at Microsoft has finally taken the wraps off a new mobile augmented reality game. It’s called Minecraft Earth, and it’s going to bring an augmented reality (or AR) Minecraft world to your Android or iOS smartphone later this year.
I was among the lucky few to try an early version of Minecraft Earth. Here’s what I learned.
Minecraft Earth requires augmented reality
Pokémon Go is often called an AR game, but its blend of the virtual and real is light and optional. Yes, you can see Pokémon appear in the world through your camera, yet you also have the option to turn that off entirely. Augmented reality is not a requirement.
Minecraft Earth is different. The game requires use of augmented reality because it always maps in-game elements to the real world. An overworld map based off Open Street Maps data exists, but when it comes time to see Minecraft come to life, you have no fallback option. You must use your camera, and you must hold your phone up to play.
The overworld will look familiar
Minecraft Earth lets you explore a virtual world built on Open Street Maps data of our real world. The graphics are given a bit of blocky Minecraft paint, but the overall look and feel of the overworld map isn’t far off previous games in this genre. It’s full of things you can tap for rewards when GPS says you’re close enough (I was told the range will be about 70 meters). These are officially called “tapables.”
Like Pokémon Go and other competitors, Minecraft Earth will be making some judgement calls about where game objects should be located. They will appear only in “public” spaces, and will avoid private residence, businesses, or places that could be dangerous, like busy roads.
Tapables reward you with blocks, items, or animals. There’s a variety of rarities, from common cobblestone to very rare obsidian.
The augmented reality adventures are unique
Tapables are only one thing you’ll find on the map. You’ll also encounter Adventures, and that’s where Minecraft Earth starts to set itself apart.
Adventures are essentially mini-games that are linked to a specific real-world location. You might be walking through a park and see an Adventure appear. Walk up to it and you’ll see, through your phone, some Minecraft blocks on the ground. You can walk up to mine them, and when you do, you might uncover a cave with skeletons to kill or a puzzle to solve.
All this happens in AR through your phone, so what’s happening in the game mirrors reality. If you want to dodge an enemy’s arrow, you must move. If you want to pick up loot sitting twenty feet away, you must walk there. There’s no shortcuts or alternatives to playing in AR.
You can play at home, too
You find Tapables in the real world, and Adventures as well. Does that mean you have to stop playing when you get home?
Nope! Minecraft Earth lets you play in your living room by throwing down a Build Plate. That’s where the blocks you collected on your commute or a walk through the nearest park can be used to build a home, a castle, or a dungeon.
Build Plates map themselves to a flat surface in your play space (a table, in most cases) and give you a god’s eye view for easy editing. However, you can blow up the Build Plate to life-size scale to experience what your creation looks like from a first-person perspective.
You can also invite friends to visit your Build Plate, though only so long as they’re in the same room as you. There’s no online multi-player in the traditional sense. And make sure your friends are trustworthy because, like with a normal Minecraftserver, they change the build plate when they visit.
It’s free-to-play, and micro-transaction details are slim
Minecraft Earth will be a free-to-play game. Microtransactions will certainly be a part of the experience, but details about what will be sold and how much it will cost remain thin. The developers of course promise the game won’t be “pay to win.” However, since the game is almost entirely cooperative – there’s no PvP of any kind – it’s unclear what the lack of “pay to win” will mean in practice.
The developers say the game won’t have loot boxes.
It runs the Bedrock engine
Despite its differences, Minecraft Earth still runs the same Bedrock engine that’s used in Minecraft. It’s an important point, and one the developers took care to maintain. The vanilla game is now 10 years old and has a huge fan base that’s come to know and love certain in-game oddities, like the specific way water flows, or how redstone switches work.
All that knowledge you’ve retained from Minecraft continues to apply in the mobile game. Minecraft Earth does have a few unique blocks and mobs, but they’re variations instead of all-new mechanics. You might run across a “Muddy Pig” that loves mud like no pig you’ve seen before, but it otherwise looks and acts like any other Minecraft pig.
Can you craft?
Yes, you can. The game will drop the traditional three-by-three grid for simple recipes, but the recipes will be familiar to Minecraft players. With that said, exact details about what can and can’t be crafted, and the materials required, haven’t been made public yet.
Can you use mods?
No, you can’t. Mod support has not been ruled out in the future, but it’s not planned for launch and there’s no timeline for when it might be included.
Is cross-play supported?
No. Minecraft Earth may use the same Bedrock game engine as Minecraft, but it’s a very different game in most respects. You can’t play with people playing vanilla Minecraft and you can’t import or export creations from Minecraft Earth to Minecraft.
Can you play on HoloLens?
The Minecraft team previously announced a HoloLens version of the game. The experience working on that helped inform the team working on Minecraft Earth, but the two games are separate entities and there’s no plan to make Minecraft Earthavailable on Microsoft HoloLens or HoloLens 2.
You’ll need a beefy phone
The game’s recommended technical specifications aren’t official, but I tried the game on a selection of Apple hardware that, to my eye, appeared to be the latest Apple iPhone XS. Playing the game caused the phone to become quite warm, a good indication that it was using all it had to render Minecraft Earth.
Augmented reality games tend to be demanding. They run best on relatively new hardware. They also drain battery life quickly. There’s no reason to think Minecraft Earth will be different. You’ll want a recently released phone for the best experience, and don’t forget to bring a portable battery.
When is the beta, and how do I join?
The closed beta will launch “this summer” on both iOS and Android. Entry will be limited, though the developers expect they’ll be able to invite “hundreds of thousands” of players over time, so your chances are good. You’ll also receive a free character skin if you sign up for the beta.
You can sign up on Minecraft Earth’s website. Note that players have to be 18 years or older.
And when’s the release date?
The final, full release date hasn’t been announced. Minecraft Earth is slated to come out later in 2019 and the team seems confident it will hit that window.
You can expect to hear more about the game at E3 2019.
Minecraft, which launched 10 years ago for the PC, has sold more than 176 million copies, which possibly makes it the best-selling video game of all time.
Microsoft announced the milestone in an Xbox Wire post that celebrates Minecraft‘s 10th birthday. Despite being around for a decade, the game’s popularity remains strong, helped by its presence in practically all video game platforms available.
At more than 176 million copies sold, Minecraft may be the best-selling video game of all time. Tetris is considered its closest rival, but it is difficult to compare the two games due to the different versions of the block-matching puzzler.
According to Windows Central, past iterations of Tetris, not including the free-to-play versions, have sold 70 million copies, which was reported in 2009. Electronic Arts then said that the mobile version reached 100 million copies sold in 2010, before adopting a free-to-play model. There may be some overlap, but even if the two figures are combined, they will come up short to Minecraft‘s reported copies sold.
There are estimates that suggest Tetris has been downloaded more than 500 million times, but with the different spin-offs, it is hard to keep track and make a direct comparison with Minecraft. The better comparison would be the also still wildly popular Grand Theft Auto V, which has sold about 110 million copies after launching in 2013.
In celebration of the milestone, Microsoft also announced Minecraft Earth, a free-to-play augmented reality game for mobile phones that looks to bring the game’s mechanics into the real world. It looks to better utilize AR technology compared to Pokémon Go, while staying true to the world-building experience with the same Bedrock engine used in all other versions of the game.
Minecraft Earth will feature microtransactions, but details on that remain scarce. The developers claim that it will not be a pay-to-win game, but that is also unclear because there will be no player vs. player mode in the mobile game.
The closed beta for Minecraft Earth will launch this summer on both iOS and Android. Microsoft seemingly has more in store for Minecraft‘s 10th birthday though, so fans of the franchise should stay tuned.
“Minecraft” may be one of the best-selling video games of all time – with more than 154 million copies purchased to date – but the developers haven't stopped building more into the game.
Acquired by Microsoft in 2014, developer Mojang has just launched Village & Pillage, a free update that adds a plethora of new goodies to “Minecraft,” for both the Java and Bedrock versions of game, which includes Windows PC ($26.95 and $26.99 for PC and Macintosh), mobile (iOS and Android, $6.99), Xbox One ($19.99) and Nintendo Switch ($29.99), and virtual reality platforms.
Before we get into what’s new and newsworthy in this new update, take in these additional facts about the world-renowned building simulation, released ten years ago this month: more people are playing “Minecraft” than ever before at about 91 million unique players every month (across all platforms); more than 160 million people have watched more than 5 billion hours of Minecraft video content on YouTube; and not only is “Minecraft” one of the best-selling games in history, but also one of the highest-rated, with the PC version netting a 93% average “metascore” at Metacritic.com.
Building better ‘Minecraft' villages
As the name suggests, villages have changed quite a bit and are among the highlights in this latest ‘Minecraft' update.
Visually, villages will look different based on biome, or region – plains, desert, savannah, taiga, and so forth – therefore you can expect to see changes based on climate and local resources. In fact, villages are now generated differently, so the layout and architecture of the village will vary.
Villages are generated differently now in ‘Minecraft,' and enjoy a new look and gameplay elements tied to each biome, or region. (Photo: Mojang/Microsoft)
Along with new building types, villagers also look more unique, with clothing that matches the biome they’re in, as well as their level and profession. With the latter, villagers now learn a trade when near a job site block, such as a Blacksmith, Librarian, Butcher, Cartographer and Shepherd, to name a few.
Villagers go about their business with a specific routine – from bed to work to socializing with others – and with better “pathfinding” artificial intelligence, too.
There are other additions, too, such as Masons and Nitwit villagers, kids who play tag, and more.
Prepare to fend off Pillagers
Want to pick a fight? Even if you don’t, you might be forced to defend yourself from an angry mob in the “Minecraft” Village & Pillage update.
While not too bright, the crossbow-wielding pillagers will disrupt the villagers’ daily lives, by attacking them in small groups, at fortified outposts, and will plunder indiscriminately throughout the land. Unlike skeletons, these pillagers may not be smart enough to move out of the way of your return fire; their aim isn’t the best; and they’ll often hurt each other with friendly fire (and say “Ow!”).
What’s better than a bow? A crossbow, of course. This is the main new weapon found in the ‘Village & Pillage’ update for ‘Minecraft.' (Photo: Mojang/Microsoft)
But what they lack in brains they make up for in tenacity. Pillagers will respawn in large outpost towers and swarm and destroy villagers in their path. So, keep a shield handy to minimize damage from an onslaught of arrows.
Once you clear them out, you can score some loot. Players who successfully defend a village from a raid will receive some fireworks and the Hero of the Village effect, which provides a deep discount on trades with villagers (see below). And if you take out a pillager captain – the ones with the banners on their backs – you’ll be rewarded with a triggered raid when you enter a village.
Along with pillagers, there are other new mobs in this update, including chubby pandas, stray cats, Ravagers (a powerful new mob), and some other surprises.
Trading up in the ‘Minecraft' update
As previously mentioned, there are new occupations in each village you visit, and that means new opportunities for trading.
When villagers make trades, they gain experience. Gain enough experience and they level up. Leveling up unlocks new trades. You get the idea.
Villagers now have a new visual-based trading system and will hold up an item they wish to trade if the player is holding something they want.
Also new is Wandering Traders, which are mysterious salesmen – flanked by a llama on each side of him – who deal items from several different biomes, often with rare materials, and offering up to six randomly generated trades. These special characters stay alive at night by drinking invisibility potions. And their loyal llamas spit at mobs if approached.
The latest ‘Minecraft’ update adds several new professionals to the game, including cartographer, librarian, butcher, and, shown here, the stone mason. (Photo: Mojang/Microsoft)
Bamboo, berries and bells
There are dozens of other new features (and fixes) in the Village & Pillage update. Here are a few more worthy features:
•Like bamboo? Then you’ll love the update as there’s plenty of it in two new biomes: bamboo jungle and bamboo jungle hills. You can not only chop it down easily by hitting it with a sword, but also combine it with string to make scaffolding in building structures.
•Several new blocks now pop up, including a variety of slabs, stairs, and walls. New textures have been added to blocks, too, such as stained glass. And there are new job site blocks that assign trades to jobless villagers.
•As you might expect, crossbows offer many benefits over a regular bow: the weapon enjoys higher damage (and can pierce multiple enemies), plus it reloads faster, and can also shoot fireworks.
•Other additions include a bell you can ring to warn villagers of an impending attack or danger – so they run inside and hide; campfires, which serve as a light source or to cook meat; Sweet Berries, a new source of food found in taiga biomes; seven new Achievements including one for killing a pillager captain; and some accessibility features such as text to speech, which can now be enabled to read in-game chat.
Minecraft turns 10 this weekend and fans of the popular-blocky-game are celebrating this big milestone in various ways, like baking cakes in real life or sharing old stories and screenshots.
Last weekend, Minecraft developer Mojang released a new and free map to celebrate the big milestone. However, while that map was cool, it was also a bit early. This weekend (specifcally May 16th) is actually the official 10 year anniversary of the first release of Minecraft.Outstream Video
Beyond this small cake topping, fans across Reddit and Twitter have been sharing tons of videos, photos, builds and more in honor of a decade of Minecraft.
One fan shared a handwritten letter they received from Jeb, a lead developer on the game, from nearly 10 years ago. When he sent his letter and received a response, he was 9 years old and in 5th grade.
A Minecraft player and creator shared some new skins they made in honor of the celebrations. It shows the main default characters of Minecraft holding up cakes. The cake is actually the head and the shoulder is the top of the hands. A very clever design.
Another player showed off artwork they made celebrating the game’s 10-year anniversary.
Reddit user and Minecraft fan Muddy_Boy shared this amazing piece of art he created in-game. Each letter represents a major update the game received over the past 10 years.Reddit user Knight506 did something similar, but showed each up visually in a video.
A few players across Reddit and elsewhere shared images of some of their first builds or even their very first homes. Like Ryan-1- on the Minecraft subreddit, who shared a screenshot of their first dirt house.
This screenshot reminded me of my first dirt home.
I downloaded Minecraft and watched a short tutorial on how to play the game and jumped in. This was right near the release of the game and I scared of the night. The moment the sun started to slide down the sky, I panicked and dug out some dirt and made a small crappy home like this. After a few days of playing that first world, my small home was a castle. But in the middle of it all, was still my first home and chest.
JotaGHz shared a photo of their birthday cake, which is Minecraft themed as the player shares a birthday with the game.
Another player also shares a birthday with Minecraft and shared their cake on the Minecraft subreddit too.
If you want to see and read more memories of Minecraft from players all around the world you can check out the hashtag #MinecraftMemories on Twitter where players have been sharing stories and photos for the past week. The official Minecraft website rounded up some of their favorite tweets in a post.
What memories of Minecraft do you have? Do you remember the first time you built a home? The first time you joined a random server? The first skin you used? Share your memories and stories in the comments.
The first version of Minecraft appeared 10 years ago this Friday, which is a truly terrifying thought. Microsoft and Mojang are marking the occasion with, among other things, a fancy new map that's free for all players to download. It's a theme park and museum, put together by the builders at BlockWorks to take you on a trip through the game's history.
Walking through static exhibits wouldn't be very Minecraft, so this museum is interactive, complete with rides, puzzles and Easter eggs. It's also absolutely huge. There are buildings dedicated to displaying every block and creature in the game, gargantuan architectural wonders, giant circuit boards, biodomes and a minecart ride through a decade of milestones. There's a lot to see.
Mojang has teased some Easter eggs, though I confess I haven't been looking too hard. I've just been wandering around aimlessly, nodding thoughtfully at pretty exhibits and snapping away.
I haven't played in years, but after popping in for a nostalgic saunter, I've found myself eager to stay. I've missed a lot of updates, but a quick browse on Reddit revealed plenty of impressive creations and sources of inspiration. I spent a whole year building a retro sci-fi ‘City of Tomorrow' once and I've got the itch again.
A pair of big announcements are also coming on May 17, but all we know about them is that they'll be better than huggable Creepers. What could possible be better than that?
You can download the map for Java here and for Bedrock on the Minecraft Marketplace. There's also an anniversary sale going on in the shop, reducing the base game by 50 percent and the top ten items by 10 percent. Minecraft merchandise has been discounted, too.
Microsoft celebrates 10 years of Minecraft by making one of the earliest functional versions available to play online in the form of classic.minecraft.net.
Ten years of creating, exploring and surviving. Ten years of mobs, mods and magnificent creations. Ten years of being consistently amazed by what you’ve built with our game. Ten years of you digging straight down despite our warnings. Ten years of being endlessly excited to see what you come up with next.
In effect, it's a simple but functional version of creative mode, and you can't save your creations.
Can a video game reclaim centuries’ worth of lost cultural heritage in the Middle East? Microsoft’s Minecraft Education Edition is being used to do just that, in league with UNESCO and schools around the world.
History Blocks takes advantage of the educationally oriented Minecraft platform to build virtual versions of ancient monuments — starting with sites that were destroyed by the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq, and by the Taliban in Afghanistan.
The project was conceived and developed by Agencia Africa in Brazil, and put to its first test this February at Escola Bosque, a private school in São Paulo.
“It is surprising to see the level of the students’ engagement in the History Blocks project,” Escola Bosque’s pedagogical director, Silvia Scuracchio, said today in a news release. “At the same time that they solve complex geometry, logic and abstract challenges, it’s possible to see how they get involved with the culture and history behind the monuments and their destruction. For many of them, it was their first contact with concepts such as cultural destruction and ideology oppression.”
Students aged from 9 to 13 built up their models from historical images of the Temple of Bel, the Monastery of St. Elian and the entrance to the ancient city of Aleppo in Syria, as well as the Mausoleum of Imam Awn al-Din and the Al-Nuri Mosque in Iraq, and Afghanistan’s Bamiyan Buddhas.
Since February, the History Blocks project has been picked up by schools in more than 30 countries using the Minecraft Education Edition.
“Technology is a tool to transform education and bring to life methods that used to be unthinkable when it comes to teaching,” said Daniel Maia, manager for academic projects at Microsoft Brazil. “The project on UNESCO’s world heritage sites opens the door for students all over the world to study important monuments of our history.”
Minecraft and History Blocks are great teaching tools, but if you’re looking for high-fidelity models of heritage hotspots ranging from ancient Egyptian temples to Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral, they’re covered by other software and survey programs.
The International Council on Monuments and Sites, a U.N. advisory panel also known as ICOMOS, is one of the leaders in the effort to document cultural sites. Over the past few years, ICOMOS’ Project Anqa (from the Arabic word for “phoenix”) has been conducting surveys of sites in Syria, starting with six representative buildings in Damascus. You can check out the virtual 3-D models online.
A historical conservation initiative called CyArk is playing a key role in 3-D documentation, for Project Anqa as well as dozens of other survey projects around the world. CyArk’s detailed digital scans feed into Google Arts and Sciences’ Open Heritage Project. For a powerful demonstration of the technology, check out CyArk’s scan of Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota. (But make sure your computer is powerful enough for the task.)
Could virtual models provide enough information to rebuild lost monuments? Historians and architects certainly hope so: They’re banking on surveys of Notre Dame, including a monumental 3-D laser scan and photogrammetric surveyconducted several years ago under the leadership of the late art historian Andrew Tallon, to serve as a guide for the reconstruction ahead.
“Minecraft” creator Marcus “Notch” Persson, who sold the title to Microsoft for $2.5 billion in 2014, won’t be part of 10-year anniversary plans for the game because of his “comments and opinions,” Microsoft tells Variety.
The spokesperson also noted that Persson hasn’t been involved with “Minecraft” since he sold the studio and rights to the game in 2014.
Persson, once an involved member of the video game development community, has increasingly ostracized himself with his Twitter comments, including transphobic statements and comments about a “heterosexual pride day,” and that “it’s ok to be white.” Persson has about 3.7 million followers on Twitter.
An update to the game last month removed loading screen text on “Minecraft” that referenced Persson. Microsoft didn’t comment about the decision to remove the reference last month.
But speaking with Variety this week, a Microsoft official confirmed that Persson would not take part in a press event at Minecraft studio Mojang in Stockholm to celebrate the May 17. The event will look at the “past, present and exciting future of the decade-old franchise,” according to the company.
“Minecraft” is a seminal video game. With more than 91 million monthly players, the building and survival game is the second best-selling video game in history, behind “Tetris.”
“Minecraft” is available on all gaming platforms.
The Buddhas of Bamyan were two monumental statues carved into the side of a cliff in Bamyan Valley, central Afghanistan, during the 6th century. Though constructed directly from the sandstone itself, sculptors fashioned some of the more intricate details out of mud, straw, and carefully coated stucco. At 115 and 174 feet tall, they both stood as towering tributes to Buddha.
In March 2001, the Taliban destroyed both statues, reducing centuries of history and ancient expression—both artistic and religious—to rubble. It was a blow that will reverberate throughout the generations that will never get to experience its glory firsthand.
Many war-affected countries harbor similar stories of loss while younger generations miss out on not only the majesty but also the chance to truly place the deep cultural significance of these pillars. That is why the History Blocks project was launched in February.Minecraft | History Blocks
With the support of the United Nations agency UNESCO, History Blocks allows students to collaboratively rebuild monuments that were destroyed during conflicts in the Middle East. The interactive program takes place within Microsoft’s Minecraft Education Edition platform. With the help of their teachers—and subjects like math, history, and government—students can “restore” notable landmarks like the Buddhas of Bamyan or the Temple of Bel within the legendary Minecraft world.
Developed by agency Africa in São Paulo, History Blocks is available to schools in over 30 countries. The team behind the project’s development hopes to expand to other nations, which would continue to close the gap between today’s generation and these relics.
“Unfortunately, many monuments have been destroyed by wars and conflicts … monuments which are a part of and tell our history,” said Sergio Gordilho, Africa’s Co-president and CCO. “Since we are unable to rebuild these monuments in the real world, at least we could make it so in the digital world.”
Running such a program under a name as widely recognizable as Minecraft further exemplifies the versatility of a video gaming industry that continues to battle a negative, violent perception. Lending a platform to such a pedagogic effort provides another inextricable link between video games and education.
“Technology is a tool to transform education and bring to life methods that used to be unthinkable when it comes to teaching,” said Daniel Maia, manager for academic projects at Microsoft Brazil. “The project on the UNESCO’s world heritage sites opens the door for students all over the world to study important monuments of our history.”