Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

MA in Child Development


Minecraft has impacted the lives of children and adolescents for years, and continues to do so. This thesis explores the similarities between open ended play in the real world, using the metaphor of a sandbox, and play by creating and exploring in the virtual world of the game Minecraft. This thesis builds on a pilot study that investigated the experience of playing Minecraft with young adults. In the present study ten more interviews were conducted with players of a greater range of ages, offering the opportunity to consolidate experiences into broader categories and themes. The interviews illustrated that the experience of the game included social, emotional, as well as creative exploration, which facilitated friendships and enabled personal growth. It became clear that the game provides an invaluable space for children, adolescents and even adults to participate in play as external forces like school, work, and responsibilities discourage them from doing so. Lastly, this study occurred in the spring of 2020, during the start of the quarantine in the United States due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, which forced all the interviewees to be isolated in their homes. With no actual space for interaction, the game became a place to stay close and be able to “leave” isolation without actually leaving their homes. In a time of quarantine, where there is literally no physical space for play and connection, the game has provided both.

Included in

Psychology Commons