Xbox announces free educational Minecraft content for children in lockdown
By Martyn Landi
A new range of free educational content in Minecraft has been released for children locked down at home because of coronavirus.
Xbox, the gaming arm of Microsoft which owns Minecraft, said the new content would be available until the end of June.
Millions of children in the UK and around the world are moving to online education and entertainment following the closure of schools and social distancing measures keeping people at home.
Writing in a blog post, head of Xbox Phil Spencer said he believed video games had a key role to play during the ongoing period of social isolation.
“I have previously stated that I believe gaming has a unique power to bring people together, to entertain, to inspire and connect us, and I believe that’s even more true under these unique circumstances,” he said.
“Many are looking to gaming to remain connected with their friends while practising social distancing, and we are seeing an unprecedented demand for gaming from our customers right now.
“With hundreds of millions of kids at home due to coronavirus-related school closures, more kids are going online to spend time with their friends, explore online worlds and learn through play.
“Families are trying to navigate the need to help their children with distance learning and balance that with taking time to have fun.
“That’s why we announced today that we are adding a new Education category to the Minecraft Marketplace with free educational content players and parents can download.”
The new content includes a tour of the International Space Station, learning to code with a robot, visiting famous landmarks in Washington DC and learning how to be a marine biologist, Xbox said.
Mr Spencer also said Microsoft would continue to monitor how players were using Xbox services to ensure its platforms were not slowed by a surge in traffic.
“We understand the important role gaming is playing right now to connect people and provide joy in these isolating and stressful times, and our teams are working diligently to ensure we can be there for our players,” he said.
“To that end, we are actively monitoring performance and usage trends to ensure we’re optimising the service for our customers worldwide and accommodating for new growth and demand.”
Public health messages are also starting to appear in some video games to remind players of ways they can help stop the spread of the virus.
Mobile game Monster Legends, which is available on both iOS and Android, is using its loading screen to display messages reminding players to “wash your hands” and “respect social distancing”.