Last week, the entire GamingEdu team, with associates, friends and fans gathered at the Educational Computing Organization of Ontario’s Bring IT Together conference in Niagara Falls. It was a fantastic event, and congratulations should be extended to Doug Peterson, Cyndi Jacobs and the entire ECOO conference planning crew for pulling together such a well-organized event. There were many sessions about Minecraft and games:

  • Minecraft in the Classroom in the Minds on Media event on Wednesday by Jen Apgar
  • Minecraft MakerSpace by Mike Washburn
  • Preparing for the OSSLT: Conferencing, Publishing and Gaming by Jim Pedrech
  • Level Up! Games Based Learning in the Junior Classroom by Adele Stanfield and Derek Walker
  • Game On! Video game design and storytelling by Teresa Tagarelli and Leanne McMillan
  • Managing Minecraft: Misunderstandings and Murky Messes by Liam O’Donnell, Denise Colby and Diana Maliszewski
  • Gamification in Education: What, How, Why Bother? by Tricia Dwyer-Kuntz
  • Rich Tasks with Minecraft by Zoe Branigan-Pipe
  • Inquiry Based Learning in Second Life by Terry Poirier
  • Using Minecraft for Grade 7 History Inquiry by Annie Slater

In my biased opinion, one of the best sessions was the longest and most unstructured: the Minecraft party. It lasted from 8:30 p.m. until midnight. The wonderful thing about this particular event was the huge chunks of time that people had to talk and to play. It was just prior to this event, at dinner, that I heard this story from Andrew Forgrave that I was compelled to share. This anecdote was significant because in the talk that Liam, Denise and I gave, we talked about the potential challenges involved with integrating Minecraft in school and we discovered, through Jen Apgar, that one of our younger community members had stopped playing because of some negative behaviour online. Andy’s story is a wonderful counterpoint to the cautionary tales.

Andrew’s alter-ego is the amazingly talented Gumby_Blockhead. Gumby works almost exclusively in the Survival area of our server. One day, Gumby was contacted by one of our younger players, CosmicDragon135. Cosmic was in the Survival world and fell into some lava, destroying his diamond armour. Cosmic asked Gumby if he could borrow a few diamonds to make new armour. Gumby cheerfully handed over some of the precious material. Cosmic said he’d pay him back, but Gumby wasn’t worried; he had plenty of diamonds stored away. The next day, Gumby logged onto the server and found a mysterious chest had been built next to his bed.

ECOO-ArtShow 051

The sign, if you can read it, says “To Gumby From Cosmic”. Inside the chest were all the diamond blocks Cosmic had borrowed.

So many times, we bemoan about how callous and cruel virtual interactions can be. By being online so often with our younger players, Gumby has the opportunity to witness the other side of the coin, the un-celebrated moments of consideration and kindness that occur.