SCARBOROUGH — With Minecraft Miner Day, video games don’t have to be an isolating experience, said Tom Corbett, systems librarian at the Scarborough Public Library.

Every month, the Scarborough Public Library invites players to learn the computer game Minecraft, or, if they’ve already mastered it, show off their skills and creativity. Both beginners and advanced players are welcome.

Corbett said that Minecraft Miner Day is usually the last Sunday of every month, with the beginner’s session starting at 1 p.m. and opening for everyone else at 2 p.m. The next session will be on Jan. 26, and players can either use one of the library’s computers or bring a laptop from home.

Minecraft, created in 2011, is a creative “sandbox” game that allows the player to create and explore an open world, either solo or online, according to the game’s official website.

“There are two aspects of the game that I think appeal to youth and some adults,” Corbett said. “One is that it is a very open-ended game that allows for a lot of creativity, especially when building structures. But it can also be a competitive game that involves fighting between players and monsters (called mobs) as well as player versus players. The violence is much less realistic than with many games. No blood, very cartoonish. In a server environment like ours, players can also work together to either build, defend villages against zombies, or compete against each other as teams.”

New players will be taken through a virtual model of the library, learn the controls and move about the world, said Corbett.


“We’ve been doing this for about three years now,” he said. “We’ve created our own server, where players start in a library and walk through bookshelves to visit new worlds, and over the years I’ve had a number of 12-to 15-year-olds work with me to build out the server — we call them our ‘teen developers.’ One of our earliest helpers was a fine young man named Matthew Conover, who went on to attend MIT as a young teen. His experience working on our server, and especially tutoring other players on proper etiquette while playing, was actually a selling point to MIT for his early admission. Of course, Matthew being brilliant and a great kid didn’t hurt either.”

Because the game is played online, with other, more advanced players roaming about, the beginner’s session is a relaxing way to get comfortable with the controls, said Corbett.

“When all of the kids are playing, it can get pretty overwhelming for beginners,” he said. “That first hour of our Miners Day is generally a quieter time … One of the tricky things about Minecraft is that it comes in many different flavors, both in terms of the software and the hardware platforms it’s played on. Many younger kids start playing it on a game console like Xbox. The PC/MAC version — called the ‘Java version’ — that our library’s server is built on uses different controls which takes a little getting used to. I have the kids walk around and explore our virtual library to get used to the controls.”

That said, Corbett added, even the youngest players pick everything up pretty quickly.

Teenagers also benefit from the event, Corbett said.

“Working with our teen developers over the years has been a great experience,” he said. “They not only get to be very creative, but also learn how to work with younger children as mentors. They also learn to think about gaming as a developer, rather than just a player.”


Corbett said that playing together also brings many memorable moments, like, “when the kids work together to defend a town full of villagers from growing hordes of zombies.”

The community element of the library also helps kids who love the game meet one another, said Corbett.

“I think a community’s public library is a great place for kids to expand their gaming experience beyond just sitting alone in front of a computer in their room or holding a tablet in their lap on a couch at home,” he said. “The library offers a safe place to join others kids in person to have fun playing these games together in a more controlled online environment. We need more space in the library to offer these opportunities more regularly but our Minecraft Miner Days, and our Dungeons and Dragons group activities, are certainly a good start. It’s also great to see kids walk out with books after they’ve finished a little gaming while at the library.”

Parents are required to accompany children under 10, said Corbett, and, if seating permits, they are welcome to join their children online.

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