Minecraft school holiday programme a hit with kids

While the summer in Wellington has been less than impressive, some Kiwi kids have been indoors enjoying the Minecraft world - and learning valuable skills while they're at it.

For four years now, Grand Training's Ed Brown has been running Minecraft school holidays for kids and Newshub went to find out what it's all about.

Minecraft is the second biggest-selling video game of all time behind Tetris, but it's far more than just a game according to Mr Brown, who has taught computer training for years.

At a studio in the Wellington CBD, kids spend their days absorbed in the world of Minecraft, digging, building with blocks and exploring the virtual world.

This week they were set a challenge to build a rocket ship and send it to the moon. Newshub spoke to students Tim (nine) and Charlotte (11) who explained what they love about Minecraft and Grand Training's computer programmes.

For a typical holiday session there can be between 10 and 20 kids enrolled, and there's a team of tutors on hand to help them out.

Mr Brown says he gets a lot of bright kids through his programmes, who maybe aren't doing too well at school but are great at computers and pick up new skills quickly.

"The younger that they get involved in it, it opens up a world of opportunity to them, and certainly a number of the students that have come through here have ended up getting rather good jobs", he says.

Some of his former students from his computer training workshops have gone on to careers in web design and programming, and one of them told Mr Brown a few years ago that he needed to start teaching Minecraft.

"It's often hard to explain to parents that they are learning something other than just playing the game", Mr Brown says, and some of his older students have been sceptical about the game which uses chunky blocks rather than high-quality 3D graphics.

But they are quickly amazed when they see what kids are able to do with Minecraft. He says "it's more than just playing a game" and kids become interesting in learning programming to make sure that the game is high quality and has all the extra facilities.

Grand Training tutor Dylan Sofa says that the programme has evolved since it began, and there's now eight different programmes using Minecraft.

Mr Sofa says he is constantly surprised by their enthusiasm and their ability.

"The level at which they're operating would thoroughly surprise teachers and parents."

He says there's a stigma around the culture of gaming where it's treated as a pastime, and not taken as seriously as it could be.

"What I've come to recognise is the potential for education through activities that young people like engaging with, such as gaming.

"Getting them into the game world we're able to teach them basic concepts of logic, science and technology, of social interaction and that's rewarding for me and rewarding for them".