Power of Play: Teens Explore Connection and Meaning Through Gameplay

For teens, games are a safe space to learn. Here, a Philadelphia-based teen shares about Minecraft and the world of possibility it encouraged him to explore.

By iThrive Games
June 9, 2020

For many young people, games are more than play. Games provide a place to connect, a place to explore, and a place to learn. At iThrive Games Foundation, we have seen firsthand how gameplay can support teens in thriving, whether it's in the classroom or amongst friends playing together online.

Earlier this year, we asked teens from a high school in Philadelphia to share a bit about their experiences with games. For extra credit in their sophomore English class, a few students wrote thought pieces in response to questions such as, "How do games help you deal with life? What games are meaningful to you and how do they help you better understand yourself or the world? How do games help you question the way things are in the world?"

Over the next few months, we'll share their insights on play, from video games to card and board games. The pieces are in their own words. To protect their privacy, their reflections will be shared with initials rather than full names. We hope these stories illuminate the power of gameplay as seen through the eyes of these young people.

Minecraft: A Life of Blocks

F.T. High School Student, Philadelphia

My name is F.T. and currently, I am 16 years old. I was born in New York but raised in Puerto Rico, which means I have the privilege of being bilingual. Normally I have a difficult time communicating with my family and that leads me to play video games all of the time. Recently, I returned to playing Minecraft, which is a game that I always have in mind. It is peaceful and relaxing to play, and I don't even notice when I lose track of time. Minecraft has been with me since childhood even though back then I could not understand the concepts behind the game. 

Minecraft has taught me the basic things in life. It has taught me how to survive. Who would have thought that I would be passionate about having a farm-taking care of my pigs, llamas, horses, chickens, wolves, cows, cats, donkeys, parrots, and even sheep?! This game takes me out of my reality and allows me to build my own reality where there is no cruelty. It teaches me to think about the environment and how it depends on me and how I depend on the environment. Minecraft is not just about building-it has more than that. At least for me, it forces me to take into consideration the resources, environment, and build of the house itself. 

The game itself is composed of blocks that the user can mine and reuse to create new material. If certain materials are combined, the user can get a new thing to build with. My favorite part is the views of the world players can get. Since I do not travel, I do enjoy the views. It shows a little window of the massive world that is called the Universe. Another thing Minecraft helps me do is to think outside of the box and create materials with resources I never thought of using.

Minecraft helps me to cope with the bad events that occur in my days and takes my stress out.