Cyber Safe: Good Game teaches digital citizenships skills through online gaming

05 Feb 2024 Minecraft students outside a school with balloons

Everyone loves a good game… but good games depend on good online communities where people feel safe. And everyone has a part to play! 🎮

Online gaming is an important space where young people socialize and connect. Just think of the camaraderie players build as they work through challenges together, the conversations they have between matches, and the rich friendships they develop over time.

But it’s about more than just gaming. Multiplayer games are only one part of young people’s online universe.

It’s important to help them navigate those spaces and build healthy human connections through digital citizenship skills so they can create communities of belonging wherever they connect. And what better way to tackle those challenges than game-based learning?

For Safer Internet Day, we’re inviting your learners to dive into Cyber Safe: Good Game, the third map in our Cyber Safe collection of immersive Minecraft worlds designed to help young people stay safe, happy, and thriving online. We created this new adventure to teach students the responsibilities, tools, responses, and strategies they need to foster digital wellbeing.

Cyber Safe: Good Game is a one-hour learning experience that helps students aged 8–18 understand the tools available to them in the games they play to make their experiences more enjoyable. It also highlights the ways that codes of conduct amplify the positive connections and interactions young people experience online.

This is about more than just gaming. Multiplayer games act as a catalyst for social connections and a space where young people can build digital citizenship skills. Rather than tell players, “Don’t do this, don’t do that,” we’re helping them build positive, proactive skills they can practice to improve the online atmosphere for everyone.

Through healthy gaming interactions, students develop empathy, understanding, and a shared sense of purpose, ultimately fostering meaningful and inclusive environments. The goal is to equip young people to build thriving communities wherever they roam in their online or offline lives.

The story starts just before summer break. A group of friends meets at the bus stop and makes plans to level up together in their favorite game, Bloon Pop. But there’s a problem: One friend confesses they can’t play because they broke their controller after frustrating encounters with online opponents and cheaters.

To support their teammate, the gaming crew decides to create a Good Game Guide that will help them have a more enjoyable online experience. By playing Bloon Pop and leveling up, they’ll populate their guidebook with strategies based on real-world experiences.

Screenshot of the safety tools embedded in the Bloon Pop game inside the Cyber Safe: Good Game world

Once the gaming begins, learners encounter common problems that pop up in online spaces. They’ll deal with random teammates sabotaging their progress and cheating, excessive distractions from the in-game chat, inappropriate screen names and language, and more.

In each scenario, players have the chance to choose the right tools to address the issue. They can ignore, correct, mute, or report a behavior. They’ll also learn that they shouldn’t misuse these tools—for example, reporting an opponent who wins a game fairly.

After each challenge, players reflect on what they’ve experienced and add an entry into the Good Game Guidethey’re creating for their friend. That guidebook will also act as a code of conduct for their own real-world gaming experiences.

Cyber Safe: Good Game helps learners understand the rules and guidelines for positive online experiences. It explores how built-in software tools can keep gaming safe and exciting for players. But more importantly, it provides skills and strategies to help them foster digital wellness and turn online spaces into communities of belonging.

Players wrestle with important questions. What responsibilities do community members have? How can they uplift the people around them? How can they communicate to improve a community’s overall behavior? And what should they do when issues pop up?

To answer those questions, Cyber Safe: Good Game gives students an opportunity to learn or practice four key digital citizenship skills:

  1. Building a positive digital footprint
    Educators can use this world to teach students about the long-term impact of their online actions and the importance of creating a positive digital footprint from a young age.
  2. Understanding online safety
    This world emphasizes the importance of staying safe online, including recognizing and avoiding potential dangers during common gaming scenarios.
  3. Responsible technology use
    By emulating real-world gaming situations and their outcomes, students will understand the consequences of their digital actions and how they contribute to the overall online atmosphere.
  4. Creating communities of belonging
    Students experience the impact of inclusivity and respect in online interactions, draft a code of conduct, and see the benefits of cultivating a supportive and safe online community.

Once learners have the right tools and strategies to keep online spaces friendly and fun, they'll be ready to make a positive impact in any community they call home—online or off.

"I really want to make sure [my child’s] time spent gaming online is fun and safe, keeping him away from anything unsavory and inappropriate,” Yusila Ramirez, a mother in Orlando, Florida, told us after demoing the Cyber Safe lesson. “It's crucial for him to learn how to spot the red flags. Good Game is a fantastic resource for any kid spending time on the internet, especially in this ever-evolving digital age."

Minecraft character in front of a screen, playing Bloon Pop within the Cyber Safe: Good Game world

There’s plenty of supporting material to help you share Cyber Safe: Good Game with a young person in your school, family, or community.

  • Minecraft Education users can find the Cyber Safe: Good Game world in the in-game lesson library.
  • We’ve also made the world available for Minecraft Bedrock players through the Education Collection in the Minecraft Marketplace.
  • Access resources, including a lesson guide and facilitator materials, on the lesson page.
  • If you haven’t already tried the first two entries in the Cyber Safe collection, we recommend giving Home Sweet Hmm and Privacy Prodigy a shot!

If you want to go even deeper, there are more opportunities to learn about positive behaviors in the online gaming space. A Microsoft Learn pathway includes a module on Cyber Safe as well as other online safety and trust topics.

As part of Microsoft’s longstanding commitment to online safety, they've released the latest findings from the annual Global Online Safety Survey. Xbox also offers the Family Settings App, with simple tools that help families easily manage their young people’s console gaming activities to help everyone have a positive experience.

Today’s learners are tomorrow’s leaders. The more opportunities we offer students to practice digital citizenship with engaging technologies, the more they’ll use them for good, for looking after each other, and for building a better world.