Last night I was playing around with Minetest on a public server, and found myself in a virtual world populated by several kids. Between their orders to "follow me" and "give me diamond" they ended up mentioning their ages: 6 - 12. One of them revealed that she is Indian. That caught my attention. We had a conversation that went roughly as follows.
me: "Are you in India right now?"
kid: "yeah. im in mumbai
kid: "i hate mumbai"
me: "Why hate Mumbai?"
kid: "im a girl :;-("
me: "I hear it is hard to be a girl in India. Maybe one day you can come to America, it's easier for girls here."
me: "Are you allowed to study computers?"
me: "You could study to be a computer programmer. That is the easiest way to come to America."
kid: "buy a ticket on a laptop"
me: "Yes. But also study how to work with computers. I work with many people from India on computers."
kid: "but im 10!"
me: "Good! You can start now and you'll be ahead of everyone else."
kid: "whatever! >:-(("
me: "Or you can stay in Mumbai. Not my problem."
kid: "say /spawn"
After that she showed me the Minetest house where she and her friends were playing and told me "stay here forever," which I found amusing.
I've been playing around with a personal project to try and convert the Minetest map.sqlite format into something that can be understood and manipulated by a person with basic SQL skills. Mostly I'm just doing for my own education and amusement; but it could be more than that.
What if Minetest (or indeed any F/OSS project) served not only as a hackable game, but was intentionally designed so that the various data and code components could double as a solid teaching tool for people who wanted to learn? Suppose the database format said "here's an effective way to think about database design, and some things that are possible when you do it well." What if some of the Lua based scripting mods were specifically written to show 10 year old kids some solid foundations in programming? What if the lighting engine (or whatever component is appropriate) could be used to explore college level mathematics and game engine design? What could we do with the art and sound with the same kinds of questions?
Some of this would be a large undertaking, and might just be a pie-in-the-sky daydream by some guy who doesn't know too much about how Minetest works.
But I'm already using some of the weaknesses in the documentation to test my ability to handle difficult code documentation and database designs. If that works for me, Minetest will help me make a career leap from DevOps into programming, which is my idea of a better future. Maybe it could be adapted further into something that helps people from all kinds of backgrounds have a better future too.