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Minecraft: A Parent and Folklorist Perspective

Folklorist Cath Bannister discusses how children play Minecraft away from their screens.

In this video we hear from Dr Cath Bannister, a folklorist, who first tell us about her own children’s enjoyment of Minecraft and then shares an example of children playing their own fantasy game of Minecraft on their way home from school.

The after-school play was something Cath observed in a research project called ‘Children, Technology and Play’ which was an 8-month co-produced study by academics from the University of Sheffield, UK, and University of Cape Town, South Africa, the LEGO Foundation and Dubit.

The study aimed to explore the contemporary play environments of children in order to identify the ways in which their play is shaped by technology, to examine the relationship between digital play, learning and creativity, and to explore the role of adults in mediating digital play. You can read more about this study here.

As you listen to Cath you will notice that she, like Dr Chris Bailey in the previous video, is very interested and led by children’s own experiences. This is a characteristic of a folklorist who studies people and cultures.

Cath, like many folklorists, uses an ethnographic approach to research. This involves observing and taking part in what people do in their everyday lives and this results in really rich and detailed descriptions as you will find in these descriptions. You will also notice that what Cath describes the children doing, does not necessarily fit with the idea of good behaviour! She describes children going to war, trolling each other and is interested in this sort of playful rule-breaking.

We will talk more about the way play, including videogame play, can be unruly throughout the course. For now, enjoy hearing about Herobrine, a folklore figure in Minecraft, who also featured in the play of two siblings as they walked home from school.

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Teaching Digital Literacy: Videogames in Education

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