OLEAN — The children at the Olean Public Library shouted with enthusiasm when they found out they would build a battlefield or statue for their Minecraft Club project at the club’s final session Wednesday.
The new “Minecraft”-based event, which was held every Tuesday in April, will be offered again at 3:30 p.m. Tuesdays in June, said librarian Sheryl Soborowski. “Minecraft” is a video game that gives players almost complete freedom to shape the virtual world around them.
Soborowski said that in addition to fun, “Minecraft” promotes Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics skills for players of all ages.
The free program was open to kids ages 6 to 14 and regularly attracted about two dozen youngsters. The youngsters used 16 laptop computers owned by the library, while others brought their own devices. The laptops, which are also used for adult tutoring, can access the Internet.
Librarian Jennifer Stickles said Wednesday’s challenge, picked at random by one of the children, asked the youngsters to build a battlefield or statue with “Minecraft.”
“We did one challenge a week,” Stickles said, noting the youngsters were able to pick from two challenges Wednesday because it was their final session.
Soborowski said the battlefield could be built from anything available in the vast array of “sandbox” inventory available through the game.
“It can be anything completely spawned from their imagination, which is what ‘Minecraft’ is all about,” Soborowski explained. “They can decide to make it a Civil War battlefield, a science fiction-based battlefield, and make aliens to match their battlefields” within a variety of backdrops.
A teen volunteer with the program, Jonathan Miller, said he was making a statue in a battlefield from materials provided through the game.
“You can do whatever you want,” Jonathan said. “There are millions of people (who play ‘Minecraft’), and each one has their own ideas for this game.”
His partner at the next computer, Ryan Dutcher, said he was creating a Civil War battlefield with Union and Confederate soldiers.
“It’s fun, yeah,” Ryan said while barely looking up from his computer screen.
Danielle Kielar of Olean said her daughter Lauren and twin sons, Thomas and Brennan, enjoy the program because of the other children at the event.
“They meet other kids who like ‘Minecraft’ … and it gets them to learn new techniques” on the computer, Kielar said.
Sarah Zalwsky said her son, Manoah, attended the session because he enjoys playing “Minecraft” at home.
“I love it because it gives him a chance to interact with other kids,” Zalwsky said. “They make new friends, and it keeps their minds going.”
Lori Tupper said her two boys, Jack and Oliver, 8 and 7 respectively, enjoy “Minecraft” because “it’s the huge craze right now.”