Provide a virtual playground with online games at home


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The Polish government is implementing Minecraft servers for children trapped at home during the coronavirus lockdown, as the internet becomes the school’s virtual playground in an age of social distancing.

Every day, the Polish government plans to release new educational challenges to entertain children while exercising their brains, including logic puzzles, game development webinars and Minecraft construction competition with prizes.

Minecraft is a great virtual playground that kids and adults can explore together online.

I undertook a similar project in my neighborhood, obviously on a somewhat smaller scale, by creating an online platform Minecraft server open to my two teenagers and neighborhood children. This way they can all play in the same Minecraft world even when they are not in the same house and connected to the same Wi-Fi network.

While kids are playing, they can also initiate a separate Skype voice call on the speakerphone, so they can talk as if they’re sitting in the same room. It’s more social than just staring at the screen.

I’ve created an online Minecraft PE server that kids can all access through their iPads, but there are other options such as a Minecraft Realms subscription. Every game is different, so if you’re looking to do something similar with your friends, you need to consider what games they want to play, what devices they have, and how much you all want to spend.

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Some games are “cross-platform”; for example, my children use our PlayStation 4 to play rocket league online against next door neighbors who have a XboxOne. To play against each other online, we had to subscribe to the PlayStation Plus subscription and they needed an Xbox Live Gold subscription. Again, there’s a lot of cheering and chatting via Skype as they play.

Meanwhile, my son is also playing Portal 2 with his friend two doors up. They purchased the game through the Steam online game store, which makes it easy to connect with other gamers online. He’s also created a Discord server – it’s basically Skype for gamers – so he can keep in touch with his school friends until they’re all back in class.

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