Post by Sharon Wagenaar, for

The New Year has arrived and the Owen Sound Public Library Minecraft Club has started another session with a fresh batch of kids.  Before beginning the session we gather at a table away from the computers to talk about the rules of the server and to discuss any experience they already have with Minecraft. All the kids have played before but not all have used the PC version.  There will be a learning curve as they become skilled at using the keyboard and mouse.   I tell them about the Multi School Server and how different school groups have different portals where they can build and explore the virtual Minecraft world.  I tell them there are special places to blow things up, play survival games and PVP.   During this time I also run through the  list of server rules; no griefing, limited spawning, no trolling, being respectful of each other’s builds, and keeping  the TNT and lava in the designated worlds.    Once everyone nods in understanding it’s time to log on.  I describe what they will see when they first join the server.  I call it the yellow brick road.   I encourage them to follow the yellow brick road up the stairs to the purple portal with the sign “The Awesome Guppy Library” and then to go through and start exploring!  The building challenge I give them is to find somewhere to build a house and put up a sign.

Once on the computers they go madly in all directions exploring the Multi School Server and shouting out what they see; questions abound :  “ How do I move forward? I want to fly!  Can I walk through this portal?  What’s the command to teleport, to talk?  I spend the rest of the session as Poppy24601; sometimes my virtual character is suspended just above the ground in the game or teleported between players and snapping screenshots as I go.  In real life I move back and forth among the kids watching their screens, commenting on their builds and offering any help I can to keep them moving through the game.

The noise level of the group increases as I spend the first part of the hour troubleshooting computer issues and helping kids get their bearings.  I am in no way an expert on Minecraft; but, I am comfortable explaining the basics or trying to find an answer.  If there are any issues I can’t deal with,  I call on the professionals; who are usually one or two of the more experienced kids in the group.  From the early days of the Minecraft Club JohnWilson01  has been my  go to guy.  He is  non-judgemental when I ask “right or left click to open the door?”  and he always remains composed when I ask once again how to get that saddle on my horse.  This session JohnWilson01 and zerobellow10 can be relied on to field questions from the less experienced players as they calmly work at creating some very imaginative buildings.  With experts like this readily available the questions are easily answered and the time flies by.

As the hour quickly slips away, the group settles down into serious game play and then suddenly it’s time to wrap things up.  Everyone seems to have one last thing they want to do before we log off.  The parents start arriving while one last brick is put in place or one more block of TNT is blown up.  Some kids want to show their parents what they have built and begin telling them about the adventure they had while in our Minecraft world.   Before I know it, the chaos and noise moves down the stairs to the main level and continues out the door … until the next Minecraft club date when we begin another exploration of a world where everything is possible.