Very few lyrics succinctly sum up the boundless spirit of video games than late, great R&B singer Aaliyah’s “age ain’t nothing but a number.” This past Friday, a 10-year-old demonstrated how true that statement is when elementary school student Julien Wiltshire was crowned Super League’s Minecraft national champion this past weekend.
Wiltshire was awarded a $5,000 scholarship prize along with the Super Bolt trophy. Wiltshire was a member of the Seven Arrows Elementary Team, with his classmates from Pacific Palisades, CA. The prepubescent Minecraft warriors raked in a combined $10,000 at the first ever national Minecraft tournament after competing at the AMC Santa Monica 7 in Santa Monica, CA. The competition took place this past June.
More than one thousand players from across the United States gathered in 40 auditoriums from AMC, Regal and other major movie exhibitors. Each player had their own laptop in a first-person point of view, but are able to see a Bird’s Eye View of the gameplay on the movie screens. The competition was divided into three phases: Mayhem (free for all player vs. player), Build (cooperative building sessions) and Crystal Crater (survival game). The players cycled through these phases three times, with the exception of Cyrstal Crater which only happened twice.
The tournament’s age limit was based on a creed of “no gamers behind” according to the league’s FAQ page, but most of the gamers were between 6-18 years old. The fact the winner hailed from the halls of Seven Arrows is a bit more understandable once you speak to people at the school. “Many of our kids play Minecraft,” said Margarita Pagliai, Head of School, Seven Arrows Elementary in a press release about Wiltshire’s win. “When they heard about this new after school league they jumped at the chance to compete.” Pagliai says the game helped kids with STEM principles, so their brains weren’t rotting after spending hours a day on the game. The game has already been integrated into several school curricula around the world.
Kids are making money playing video games that make them smarter; age is nothing but a number and learning is nothing but a game.