This post is so totally Twitchin’


So, Twitch. No, it’s not the really hot dude from Magic Mike 2.

Insert gratuitous Twitch photo here………

Le sigh, Le Twitch Source: People Magazine online

I am talking about the online game streaming website and associated app. I have some very nerdy friends who like to play console and online games and stream them online for others around the world to view. It is a great platform for sharing your gaming experiences and forging gamer networks. I mentioned it in my post about Minecraft. Twitch is where I first stumbled onto Thorlar, among other streaming sites. Wondering how to get past that level that was really hard on that childhood favourite game? (See my childhood re: Mario Kart 64 Rainbow Road, OMG!). Well, Twitch allows that. Want to get a real live review of that $80 game before you hand out the money for it? Well, Twitch can do that. Want to connect with other gamers who want to play c0-0p with you online? Yup, Twitch can do that too.

So why Twitch? It is a great active and passive participant community. You can be a lurker and just watch or you can play or comment. Many channels often have a donation option where you can donate money to the channel to fund them individually, but many, like Thorlar, have charity events and raise tens of thousands of dollars just for playing a game. Micro communities form within channels, for example, there are regular commenters on Thorlar’s channel which he interacts with. Thorlar is given a notification when someone “follows” him, and he makes the effort to welcome newcomers with his catchphrase “Welcome to Asgard”. He will often read the chat stream and make verbal comments on what viewers are talking about and takes it upon himself to keep the chat clean by reminding chatters to mind their language. He is pretty adorable.

Apart from game specific channels like Thorlar, there are other channels which hone in on different types of games, there are many retro game channels where a different retro game is played and reviewed online every episode. These would have to be my favourite. I love being taken back into my childhood and watching the experts try (and sometimes fail) to complete some of the hardest games from the 80s and 90s. I am hooked. I used to watch episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer while I cleaned the house, but now, I put on a Twitch stream and get distracted from the mopping in a whole new way.

If you have any interest in gaming or are simply interested in another facet of popular culture, check out Twitch. You may just become as hooked as I am.

Can I play Minecraft now, Miss?

Ahhh, Minecraft. How you have changed my classroom, my teaching and my students in the last few years.

I am still a novice when it comes to Minecraft, but who isn’t? With the fluid nature of the environment, the creative options and the never ending worlds, it is impossible to say that anyone is an expert. I reference people like “Thorlar” a giant in the Minecraft world. The self-proclaimed “Pixel art king” (I mean, seriously, this dude is talented. Check out his YouTube channel as well). I have spent many an hour watching his artistic exploits through the online game streaming site “Twitch”. His ability to use Minecraft for such beautiful pieces of art on such a huge scale is magnificent. But still, I would say that even he is not an expert. There is just too much scope for this game. Even then, I use the term “game” looselyy, as it is much, much more than that.

Youtube clip: Thorlar world record attempt. Retrieved 26/9/15 from:

My original introduction into Minecraft was through a colleague who wanted to use my class as guinea pigs for a gamification unit in 2013. I had no idea what it was and most of my class had never even heard of it. Fast forward two years and it is ERRYWHERE. There are even toys and colouring books in local stores. There is even “Minecraft for education” which has been specifically designed for use in the classroom for educational purposes.

I will admit that I have used Minecraft as a reward carrot for my class at times, and I am well aware that many other classes do too. But it is much, much more than that. There are plenty of resources on the web for how to use it for educational purposes. I have used it for Maths, English, History, Science and even Religion. The most amazing outcomes came from a narrative writing unit where the students wrote descriptive paragraphs about their “worlds” and turned these into stories. The rich discussions that the students get into around Minecraft is incredible. I have been able to do oral language assessments on students who are usually almost non-verbal in class based on their conversations while “in-game”. Seriously teachers, get on this. I mean it.

Still don’t believe me? Here, check this out….

Minecraft and your kids. Retrieved 26/9/15 from

Edit: Following on from a comment posted to this page, I have decided to discuss how I have introduced parents to the concept of gamification in the classroom on my Gamification page. Check it out!