Yes, it is! Kids create worlds in sandbox games much like how a writer creates a world.
- Amanda Bindel, Toca Magazine Writer
When it comes to great storytelling, Minecraft has it all — a lovable protagonist (that’d be the player, who goes by Steve in the game), a setting that kids literally create themselves and a plot that they direct as well. Playing in creative mode, kids are free to build their world without the threat of monsters attacking in the night and destroying what they’ve created. Although the name itself may lead you to think it’s the more creative option for play, survival mode adds one more storytelling element to keep players on their toes and make a great story: the antagonist, there to foil our hero’s plans.
When kids create entire worlds themselves in sandbox games like Minecraft, the process is similar to how a writer creates a world in a story. In writer’s terms, think of the time kids are playing sandbox games as the prewriting stage of the writing process. Kids are brainstorming ideas, trying them out and creating a narrative. That alone is a worthy pursuit, but parents can encourage creative storytelling by asking kids to share their story.
When kids create entire worlds themselves in sandbox games like Minecraft, the process is similar to how a writer creates a world in a story.
The simple question, “What happened in your game today?” could elicit a dramatic retelling from some kids. Others may need a bit more coaxing to make their tales engaging. Ask them to describe the setting, not just what it looks like but what their character may be hearing or smelling or feeling, as well. Encourage kids to use sequencing words through the questions you ask. “Then what happened?” or “What did you finally do?”
You can do all of this and help kids develop storytelling skills without ever even mentioning writing. (And for kids who are writing averse, it’s probably best not to use that word and risk killing the joy of the game for them.) Or you could offer a simple encouragement like “That would make a great story for your writing journal” and plant that seed for kids to find writing inspiration everywhere, even in their virtual worlds.