VIDEO: Minecraft and the Future Construction Workforce

By on September 11, 2018

PERSPECTIVE

by Tom Finan, Executive Director, Construction Forum STL.

A couple of years ago I wrote about a New York Times Magazine article on the game Minecraft and how it is challenging kids to think, design, and build. Since then we’ve run more pieces — talking about how the game is used to train BIM operators and to involve non-designers in helping to create urban environments in developing companies. So between that, and being the father and grandfather of young people,  I had passing with the game.

All of which left me totally unprepared for what we encountered in the Chicago suburb of Schaumburg, when we took two young grandsons to attend the “MineFaire” event. This was an environment where it was cool to be a nerd. Kids were totally unselfconscious about showing the world just how smart they were.

My wife, who is an educator with a doctorate, asked one grandson who had just solved an incomprehensible (to me) clue in the “escape room” how one learns the problem-solving associated with Minecraft.

“You just play the game,” he said, matter-of-factly.

One thing that parents were good at was holding places in line for hours — kind of like going to Disney on school break. Except the prize at the end of the line was the chance to do math, design things, and tool around in a virtual reality version of the game.

Kids lunged at the competition stage for the chance to design 3D fruit and vegetables. Their contemporaries quickly rendered verdicts on whose designs were cool and whose were lame.

These young people are absorbing and participating in technologies and analytical thinking at a level that my generation could not have imagined. While their elders are pontificating about AI and automation, these kids are part of the wave.

As we leaving the venue,  my wife pronounced herself, “Inspired…if I could just understand it.” Somehow I think we just need to play the game.

About Tom Finan