Business Unusual

Minecraft, a game that could one day get your child a job

Innovation and disruption in the labour market move far quicker than in the education sector.

Many of the work opportunities available now did not exist 10 years ago and you could imagine the same to be true for the next 10 years.

The most chilling reality may be that there simply will not be work opportunities in sufficient volume to allow those currently in the school system to ever find a job.

South Africans are only too aware of the compounding factors that less than optimal educational instruction, poor passing levels, limited access to further education, low economic growth and the shift to automation has on the employment rates. The Unemployment rate for young people (15-24) is increasing steadily from 33% in the mid-90s to almost 50% now. This excludes those still studying.

How could a game reduce unemployment?

On its own it can’t but, if added to a range of other measures, it may amplify the impact.

This category of game is known as economic simulation games, open-ended and expansive, covering a variety of genres with the best known of them being Minecraft.

I can’t be sure why modular construction appears to be a Scandinavian thing, but it can’t be a coincidence that Lego (Denmark), Ikea (Sweden) and Minecraft (also Sweden) have created such an impact using effectively the same idea.

It is helpful for those who don’t know Minecraft to describe it as digital Lego. The generated worlds are purposefully created with a simple block structure. Even the recently announced 4K edition with features beautifully rendered and very high resolution graphics maintains the world built in basic looking cubes.

The game released commercially in 2011 to an already enthusiastic base and had grown fast enough to convince Microsoft to buy the company in 2014 for $2.5 billion.

Since then it has gone on to become the most successful PC game of all time and only second to Tetris as the most successful video game ever.

You can play on your own, with friends or anyone online. Game modes include a survival mode where you could be attacked by monsters or creative mode where you get to craft and build anything you can imagine, from a lowly stick to a computer (someone has actually built a basic one).

It is the crafting and the building that makes the game both quite unique and so popular. Children and adults can spend hours planning and crafting impressive landscapes or huge constructions. The Danes have even had the entire country replicated in Minecraft, down to the very last building.

As bizarre as that might seem, it is actually part of the serious potential benefit of the system. It is a simple and easy way for anyone to get a sense for what a space may be like. The UN’s BlockbyBlock Project hopes to build better neighbourhoods by getting communities designing and reviewing potential urban spaces in Minecraft. Johannesburg has looked at options for developing East Street North Park using it.

Some of those designs can be considered art and a group called Blockworks creates just that in the game.

So, the game offers personal discipline in planning and at least a basic understanding of mining, farming and crafting. It fosters collaboration, encourages competition and, as seen above, can be used for community building.

There is a version used for education too. Having children learn lessons in a virtual world with classmates, whether in the same physical space or just the cyber one, is far more engaging than someone standing at a board. Language, content subjects, mathematics or anything can be crafted into a lesson. The game uses a “camera” for the students to take pictures of their work which the educators can use to track progress. Good students can move ahead, struggling students can get more help.

Adding a virtual reality option allows for physical movement and more immersion into the world. No distractions for kids to do their work.

Economic simulations games

The broader category has value for those currently working in offices, factories, in the fields or down a mine.

While the heyday for these titles was the early 2000s; even the old games still have value for testing or demonstrating some key approaches to real world scenarios.

Lemonade Tycoon is a good primer for retail. Choices about procurement, customer tastes for the recipes, locations and price points are simply, but effectively, demonstrated. If a team member were to struggle to get ahead in the game, odds are they will have the same issues dealing with those aspects of the business.

One called TV Tycoon has you buying TV programming content, tracking the popularity and revenue from advertising against the cost to commission it. The SABC may consider having future executives play a few rounds to avoid any more unfortunate business plans being implemented.

For those in the medical field, the silly Theme Hospital takes strange disorders like invisibility syndrome and inflated head as conditions you will need to have facilities, doctors and equipment to treat. If you are about to take on a project to grow a part of your business, this is a good way to focus your attention on managing costs while you seek the greater returns.

SimCity is the other, very well known one and covers everything in managing a city you can think of. Municipal elections should include each candidate's SimCity score as a benchmark for their understanding of managing the many competing priorities that allow a city to survive and grow.

These are still simply games. Their use is to surface potential overlooked skills or deficiencies in your current work teams. It is also likely to give your child an advantage in a rapidly evolving and increasingly competitive labour market.

CapeTalk welcomes all comments that are constructive, contribute to discussions in a meaningful manner and take stories forward.

However, we will NOT condone the following:

  • Racism (including offensive comments based on ethnicity and nationality)
  • Sexism
  • Homophobia
  • Religious intolerance
  • Cyber bullying
  • Hate speech
  • Derogatory language
  • Comments inciting violence.

We ask that your comments remain relevant to the articles they appear on and do not include general banter or conversation as this dilutes the effectiveness of the comments section.

We strive to make the CapeTalk community a safe and welcoming space for all.

CapeTalk reserves the right to: 1) remove any comments that do not follow the above guidelines; and, 2) ban users who repeatedly infringe the rules.

Should you find any comments upsetting or offensive you can also flag them and we will assess it against our guidelines.

CapeTalk is constantly reviewing its comments policy in order to create an environment conducive to constructive conversations.

Read More
Great ideas, wrong time

Great ideas, wrong time

The iPhone, Ebay and Facebook, we all know these killer applications but what about their very similar predecessors that flopped.

The world of business is changing, here is what you need to know.

The world of business is changing, here is what you need to know.

Companies, institutions and principles, nothing is safe from the impact of the 4th industrial revolution.

What 30 years of data tells us about the past and future of the super wealthy

What 30 years of data tells us about the past and future of the super wealthy

Changes to the Forbes Rich List is like a financial history of the world, reflecting economic booms and busts.

Everything you need to know about the dark web, but were too afraid to ask

Everything you need to know about the dark web, but were too afraid to ask

The recent closure of two illegal online marketplaces selling contraband has put the dark web back in the spotlight.

The Alibaba Group does not see itself as a company but an economy

The Alibaba Group does not see itself as a company but an economy

Alibaba founder Jack Ma says the future is his biggest competitor and he wants young entrepreneurs to help him succeed.

If a minimum wage is a good idea, what about a maximum?

If a minimum wage is a good idea, what about a maximum?

Salary caps are not new, but wage gaps have never been this big, perhaps this is how could we address it.

Popular articles
Mduduzi Manana resigns

Mduduzi Manana resigns

President Jacob Zuma has confirmed that he accepted Manana's resignation and thanked him for his contribution during his term in office.

Alopecia androgenetica is the most common form of pattern baldness - Hair doctor

Alopecia androgenetica is the most common form of pattern baldness - Hair doctor

Dr Kevin Alexandra of the Hair loss clinic explains why you may lose your hair and what treatment you can follow for hair loss.

Good sugar vs bad sugar

Good sugar vs bad sugar

David Katz also known as Mr. Active and Phemelo Motene discuss which sugar you should avoid and which sugar you should consume.

An expert guide on 'hotwifing' and 'cuckolding' in the bedroom

An expert guide on 'hotwifing' and 'cuckolding' in the bedroom

Clinical sexologist Dr Eve shares insights into sexual fetishes and how partners negotiate them in their bedroom and relationship.

Big supermarkets to be policed on food hygiene standards

Big supermarkets to be policed on food hygiene standards

JP Smith, Mayco member for Safety and Security, explains some of the measures in place to ensure food hygiene in big supermarkets.

[Watch] John Maytham shuts down victim shamer on air

[Watch] John Maytham shuts down victim shamer on air

A caller wanted to know what the alleged victim had done in order for Grace Mugabe to assault her.

WC Health Dept responds to Diphtheria outbreak

WC Health Dept responds to Diphtheria outbreak

Dr John Sonnenberg voiced his concern that communication in the Helderberg area following the outbreak could have happened sooner.

Cape officials to harvest 500 million litres of new water a day

Cape officials to harvest 500 million litres of new water a day

Mayor of Cape Town speaks to CapeTalk's Kieno Kammies about plans to provide more water amidst the ongoing drought.