Can Social Communication Skills for Children Diagnosed With Autism Spectrum Disorder Rehearsed Inside the Video Game Environment of Minecraft Generalize to the Real World?

JMIR Serious Games. 2020 May 12;8(2):e14369. doi: 10.2196/14369.


In this paper, we outline opportunities within the video game environment for building skills applicable to real-world issues faced by some children. The game Minecraft is extremely popular and of particular interest to children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Although the game has been used by support communities to facilitate the social interaction of children and peer support for their parents, little has been done to examine how social skills developed within the game environment generalize to the real world. Social Craft aims to establish a framework in which key social communication skills would be rehearsed in-game with a view to facilitating their replication in a similarly contained real-world environment. Central to this approach is an understanding of the basic principles of behavior and the engagement of a sound methodology for the collection of data inside and outside the respective environments.

Keywords: Lego; Minecraft; autism; behavior analysis; gamification; neurodiversity; serious games; social skills; virtual reality; virtual worlds.