Perth teacher gets young minds buzzing with video game Minecraft

Angelica Kinney (11), Mind Buzz owner Sean Firth and Kye Brindle (12) during a camp in Peppermint Grove.
Angelica Kinney (11), Mind Buzz owner Sean Firth and Kye Brindle (12) during a camp in Peppermint Grove.

SEAN Firth never expected to be using a video game to teach skills to kids, but these days he does exactly that.

Mr Firth, a teacher and former principal, was introduced to popular sandbox block-building game Minecraft five years ago and said he could not believe the impact it had on kids.

“The game changed the way they behaved with each other,” he said.

“Instantly, I was like ‘wow’.

“I’d never seen a teaching tool with such power, the power to break down barriers, and I’m not even a gamer.

“I’m a professional educator and I see the impact of the game.”

Mr Firth now runs holiday camps across Perth after founding Mind Buzz, where the game is used as a tool to improve collaboration and communications skills and where there is a strong focus on caring for other players.

The days are structured, starting with a tutorial where everyone is brought up to speed in groups of four before progressing to the proper game.

Here players can interact with people who have previously gone to the camps via a server.

After lunch is all about creativity.

“I notice – and the parents notice – at the start of the day it’s quite frenetic,” Mr Firth said.

“By the end of the day the whole group is in a bit of a flow state.

“The communication over a day really improves between the group because they realise that’s the best way for their team to move ahead.”

Mr Firth said he was often asked by parents if there was a different camp their child could progress to, something Mr Firth said did not work.

Instead “multi-level leadership” is embedded into the camps, with kids who have come before mentoring less experienced players.

Attadale resident Kye Brindle is an admin in the camps, helping people new to Minecraft.

“Helping everyone is sort of my role now but I still get to play along with them,” he said.

“You can do so many things. It’s a game for everyone.”

Mt Claremont mum Shauna Kinney said she liked “the amount of negotiation” that occurs when the kids get together.

“It evolves into ‘I’ll trade you this for that’ or ‘I’ll take on this chore and you take on that chore’,” she said.

“It’s nice to see that negotiation happen.”

For information about Mind Buzz holiday camps, visit https://mindbuzz.com.au.

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