Playing Games

Kids learn by playing games.  They always have.

At first, I tried fighting the natural urge for my kids to want to play video games but they’re everywhere.  The fact of the matter is, the world has changed since I was a kid.  Paradigms are changing.  Kids are becoming millionaires at the tender age of thirteen – and sometimes younger – because their interest in gaming led them to learn coding, compete at international levels or become popular streamers.  The world has changed.  My job, as a hackschooling mom is to control the way I respond to that change and allow my kids to explore their interests in a manner such that they’re not just playing, but they’re learning too.  When my youngest was six, he learn multiplication and division from Minecraft.  My firstborn knows more about physics and engineering than I could ever hope to.

So I let them play games.  They aren’t interested enough in coding yet to start creating their own mods, though I do encourage it.  They do have YouTube channels where they stream their game play to show me (and the world) what they’re up to.  Pretty transparent parenting, huh.  Yeah, I know.  Every so often, we have our own sort of pop quiz where we sit down and watch their videos.  We discuss their streaming skills like screen movement and voice control and we talk about what they learned playing that game.

Anything can be a learning experience.

Everything is a learning experience.

So here are some of the games they play:


Minecraft is a game about breaking and placing blocks. At first, people built structures to protect against nocturnal monsters, but as the game grew players worked together to create wonderful, imaginative things.

It can also be about adventuring with friends or watching the sun rise over a blocky ocean. It’s pretty. Brave players battle terrible things in The Nether, which is more scary than pretty. You can also visit a land of mushrooms if it sounds more like your cup of tea.

For the boys’ safety online, we decided to buy our own server which serves as our own little Minecraft sandbox where only we (and select friends) can play.  I’ve tried a few companies but the best one by far is Minespan.  For $3 a month, we have a great Minecraft playground where we can create anything our blocky hearts desire.


Kerbal Space Program

KSP is a game where the players create and manage their own space program. Build spacecraft, fly them, and try to help the Kerbals to fulfill their ultimate mission of conquering space.

We got the KerbalEdu version that is sold at a discount to homeschoolers and has educational reading materials and missions available for download.

KerbalEdu is an official school-ready standalone* remix of the award winning game Kerbal Space Program. The game is available for everyone to purchase and has been enhanced with features that help integrate it into the classroom*. Players assist the lovable-but-hapless Kerbals as they build rockets and carry out orbital missions. Students master real-world physics and engineering skills as their understanding of STEM concepts blast off!


Space Engineers

Space Engineers is a sandbox game about engineering, construction, exploration and survival in space and on planets. Players build space ships, space stations, planetary outposts of various sizes and uses (civil and military), pilot ships and travel through space to explore planets and gather resources to survive. Featuring both creative and survival modes, there is no limit to what can be built, utilized and explored.

Space Engineers features a realistic, volumetric-based physics engine: everything in the game can be assembled, disassembled, damaged and destroyed. The game can be played either in single or multiplayer modes.


Medieval Engineers

Medieval Engineers is a sandbox game about engineering, construction and the maintenance of architectural work and mechanical equipment using medieval technology. Players build cities, castles and fortifications; construct mechanical devices and engines; and perform landscaping and underground mining.

Medieval Engineers utilizes a realistic volumetric-based physics engine with a focus on structural integrity: all game objects can be assembled, disassembled, damaged or destroyed, and the object’s mass and structure influences its integrity. The game comes with creative mode and an early prototype of survival mode.

Medieval Engineers is the second “engineering” game developed by Keen Software House. The first isSpace Engineers, which sold over 1 million copies in its first year and is still a bestseller.



Sid Meier’s Civilization Beyond Earth, Starships, Rising Tide


Beyond Earth: Sid Meier’s Civilization®: Beyond Earth™ is a new science-fiction-themed entry into the award-winning Civilization series. Set in the future, global events have destabilized the world leading to a collapse of modern society, a new world order and an uncertain future for humanity. As the human race struggles to recover, the re-developed nations focus their resources on deep space travel to chart a new beginning for mankind.

As part of an expedition sent to find a home beyond Earth, you will write the next chapter for humanity as you lead your people into a new frontier and create a new civilization in space. Explore and colonize an alien planet, research new technologies, amass mighty armies, build incredible Wonders and shape the face of your new world. As you embark on your journey you must make critical decisions. From your choice of sponsor and the make-up of your colony, to the ultimate path you choose for your civilization, every decision opens up new possibilities.


Starships: Take command of a fleet of powerful starships in this adventure-driven strategy game from legendary designer Sid Meier.  Build and command a fleet of starships and travel between planets as you explore, build, negotiate, and fight to preserve your vision for humanity.

Rising Tide: After the first wave of great colony ships departed Earth, the jubilation of humanity was short-lived. Those left behind fell into a violent struggle over the quickly-diminishing resources on their barren home world. From this tumultuous time, two new factions arose. These newcomers were grounded not in the idealism of their predecessors, but on opportunism, resilience, ruthlessness, and above all a commitment to their own survival.

Now, many decades after their first landfall on a new planet, the proud survivors of the first expeditions beyond Earth look up to see the skies darkened by a new breed of pioneers.

Beyond Earth extended the Civilization franchise from its historical setting into the possible futures of science fiction. Rising Tide extends Beyond Earth to new frontiers on the planet’s surface and beneath its seas, adding even more choices and diplomatic options as you continue to build “just one more turn” toward a new vision for the future of humanity.