Though Philadelphia resident Gabe Young doesn’t have enough hours in the day to explain all of the twists and turns players of the video game Minecraft can take, this weekend he and a team of gaming enthusiasts will attempt to share what makes the game truly unique with Peninsula residents.
With opportunities to experience the game in virtual reality, live entertainment on four stages and several young gamers sharing tips and tricks with fans of the game, Minefaire, the event Young is coordinating at the San Mateo County Event Center this Saturday and Sunday, is set to immerse players of all ages and ability levels in a game that’s captivated the minds of many.
By gathering resources and building structures like staircases, mazes and amusement parks in the game, Minecraft players can create their own worlds and solve problems in creative ways, said Young. In giving players the option to work with or compete against others and code within the game to create maps of new worlds, Minecraft offers players a seemingly boundless environment to explore, said Young.
“Basically there’s no limit to what you can do with Minecraft,” he said. “Your only limitation is your imagination.”
And perhaps that’s why so many kids have been drawn to the game since it was released in 2011, drawing anywhere between 10,000 to 15,000 people to the five Minefaires Young and event cofounder Chad Collins have pulled off since they started convening enthusiasts in 2016.
Young said he enjoys seeing players, many of whom are accustomed to playing on their own, come alive when they meet others as bullish on the game as they are. Though the events are aimed at attracting all ages, Young said kids ages 6 to 12 have come to enjoy meeting peers and discovering new ways to approach the game. Getting the chance to meet other youth who have made a name for themselves on YouTube as experts in the game is as exciting as it’s been for generations of kids to meet star athletes and celebrities, said Young.
“These kids they see these YouTubers as their A listers in a way that we can’t imagine,” he said. “It gives a lot of these kids the motivation and the energy to keep going.”
Though Young and Collins have experience convening kids at events like a Lego convention, Young said it wasn’t until they saw their own children playing the game that they saw how captivating it was and decided to focus their energy in planning Minecraft events.
“We were blown away with how much we’re learning by watching [them] learn,” he said. “There’s a lot of things happening in these little brains.”
A go-to activity for his four kids before dinner, Young said he’s realized how much the game is teaching them about topics like agriculture, history, geology and architecture, all without their feeling like they are being taught. And he’s hoping the same understanding spreads among parents in the 11 cities expected to play host to Minefaire this year.
Young’s advice to other parents attending the event with their kids is to be open to experiences they might not have had as kids and let them teach them about a game they’ve spent hours exploring.
“These kids are going to grab their parents by the hand and say look what I’m doing,” he said. “Now they’re going to have a better idea of how to guide their kids.”
Minefaire will be held 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 10 and 11 at the San Mateo County Event Center, 1346 Saratoga Drive. Visit minefaire.com for more information and to purchase tickets, which start at $45 and are free for children age 2 and under.