Exploring Ways To Handle Online Bullying Through Minecraft

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Misty Boggs
Misty Boggs is the Creative Director at MSGPR. She lives in Angelina County and is pursuing her bachelor's degree in Public Relations and a minor in Creative Writing at Stephen F. Austin State University. Between studying and working, she enjoys teaching her niece and nephew the fine art of never growing old.

“What did I do to deserve this?” asked Mark Cheverton’s 7-year-old son with tears in his eyes.

A short while prior, Cheverton, a former public school teacher of 15 years and an engineer with GE, made the decision with his wife to buy the video game Minecraft for his son, who begged his parents for many months.

“The decision to buy Minecraft turned out better than my wife and I could ever have hoped,” he says. “The game features positive creative and building aspects that are excellent for young children, including resource gathering, exploration, crafting and combat. My son became greatly admired from other children who played the game, and I loved playing the game with him, too.”

Cheverton’s son made plenty of friends. However, it wasn’t long before one of the visitors to his son’s server destroyed everything the child created in the Minecraft universe. The online bully recorded the destruction and posted it to YouTube. The public humiliation was complete – and it would happen again.

As a result, Cheverton wrote “Invasion of the Overworld: Book One in the Gameknight999 Series: An Unofficial Minecrafter’s Adventure,” (markcheverton.com), which is based in the Minecraft universe and explores how to deal with bullying.

“Since publication, the book has had a tremendous impact on children who play Minecraft, including my son,” says Cheverton, who explores how fiction has taught children how to use the game as a tool and not a weapon.

•  You can use narrative to teach children how to play ethically. After six months, Cheverton finished his novel and was able to read it with his son. Before the novel, he’d tried explaining to his son why being bullied wasn’t the boy’s fault, but the message didn’t get through. Reading the novel with his son, however, worked.

•  The idea has also got children writing their own fiction. The idea of writing a book within the Minecraft universe really took off. That first Christmas, the book made it to No. 29 in Amazon’s top 100. It was then picked up by a publisher and recently made it to the New York Times Bestseller’s list.

“Now, I have multiple books being published in 15 countries and being translated into seven different languages,” he says. “More importantly, the book has inspired young children who love the game to do their own writing in the context of Minecraft.”

•  A book about a videogame can get kids reading. “This has been a strange journey – from buying the game for my son to how much of an impact the novel has made,” Cheverton says. “I have received email after email from parents who can’t thank me enough for getting their children to read again. While video games like Minecraft can foster positive lessons and skills for children, reading is an essential skill for lifelong learning and self-improvement.”

About Mark Cheverton

Mark Cheverton (markcheverton.com) majored in physics and math as an undergraduate in college and went on to teach in public schools for 15 years. While teaching he earned a master’s degree in physics. He later went worked for GE’s Global Research Center, where he researched laser welding, 3D printing, machine vision, process monitoring and machine control. He began writing his Minecraft series to help explain difficult lessons to his son, now 11. Those lessons include taking risks, a willingness to try something difficult and how to be brave. His first book, “Invasion of the Overworld: Book One in the Gameknight999 Series: An Unofficial Minecrafter’s Adventure,” addresses the sensitive topic of bullying.

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