Minecraft is an absurdly popular video game, but it's becoming much more than that. Teachers are beginning to use it in the classroom to teach basic STEM skills, and Mojang will soon use it to teach basic programming.
Mojang announced today that it's working on Minecraft: Pi Edition for the Raspberry Pi, the $35 Linux computer. The hope is that kids, adults and anybody else can hack away at this version of Minecraft and come away with some basic programming skills in the process.
Minecraft: Pi Edition is based on Pocket Edition, the iOS and Android version of Minecraft. Unlike those versions, however, Minecraft: Pi Edition will be totally free. It's part of a partnership with the Raspberry Pi Foundation to get more kids interested in programming on cheap hardware that anybody can afford.
It should be noted that this version of Minecraft is still fully playable. In fact, Mojang encourages players to just start out building objects in Minecraft before moving on to code-related actions. Even then, learning code should pretty straightforward for most as players will be learning code in the context of Minecraft as they manipulate the world around them.
Minecraft: Pi Edition is a great move on the part of Mojang and the Raspberry Pi Foundation. It can be difficult to educate children, but turning their education into games is a great way of making it actually fun. A game like Minecraft, which kids love, should be even more effective than other programming and educational games that feel more patronizing than fun.