MINE OVER MATTER: Who knew spending hours digging holes and stacking blocks could be so fun? That's probably one of the first questions asked when Swedish developer Markus Persson released the first Minecraft beta in December 2010. It's pretty simple concept: players get dropped into a world composed of randomly generated pixelated blocks and explore, collect, and build whatever they want. You can go solo, or join fellow builders to collaborate on massive projects. The world is huge and the possibilities endless, allowing players to run amok with their wildest imagination. (It currently boasts over 16 million registered users and 4 million sales, according to Gamespot.)
The Minecraft lexicon has quickly spread beyond the realm indie gamers, thanks mostly to "Minecraft Teacher" Joel Levin, who describes this as a "21st century online Legos that you can play with your friends." He's a computer teacher/pioneer at the forefront of taking this game to schools, introducing it to his class at Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School--for first- and second graders! (Gaming blog Kotaku paid a visit to his class several months ago.) Joel also runs a blog where other teachers share the crazy things they've seen from students. Similar forums and communities have sprung up. Now Levin is working with teachers and developers in the U.S. and Finland on MinecraftEdu, an initiative to get the game in schools at discounted rates with customizable, class-appropriate features. EdSurge's very own edugames snob Tony applauds this move, having done some heart-pounding digging of his own back in the summer.