Following the murder of George Floyd, a black man who was forcibly killed by a white police officer in May 2020, there has been a significant increase in requests from American public school teachers for books by or about African-Americans. Americans.
Felisa Ford, however, wanted to go further.
As a professional learning specialist focused on educational technology, Ford came up with the idea of meeting children where they are to educate them about social justice. Then she received an email from Minecraft asking if she wanted to create content around the movement.
Minecraft is a very popular brand of video games in which players create and break down different types of blocks in three-dimensional worlds. In February 2022, between 2.8 million and 3.6 million people played Minecraft.
Ford knew this was a big deal.
“The Minecraft team said they were looking for an educator or minority educator who could help them talk about the social unrest that was happening. They also recognized that there aren’t many of us in the gaming world,” she explained, also sharing that she is a Global Minecraft mentor. “There aren’t many women in this world either, which is why it was so important to me to help others with this game.”
The Ford-created educational game is called Good Trouble, named after civil rights leader Congressman John Lewis’ famous quote about activism – the Minecraft world lets students explore civil rights movements through the story.
In the game, Lewis is introduced as an avatar and greets student players in the lobby of a virtual museum, guiding them through the “world of Good Trouble”. There, they meet personalities like Malala Yousafzai, Rosa Parks and other activists. Ford said she wanted the game experience to run the gamut of activism, from righting the wrongs of racial injustice to exposing students to gender equality.
“I made sure to feature Malala because we wanted girls in Pakistan to be able to see her fighting for girls’ independence,” Ford said. “We also wanted the students to see that there were others who stood up and they were ordinary people.”
The game is obviously resonating with users as it has been downloaded over 3 million times as of May 2021.
Because of her tireless work, Ford was selected as one of TIME’s Most Innovative Teachers of the Year. Humbled by the honor, Ford says she’s just doing what she loves.
“I’m so lucky to have found my calling – it just so happens that what I do makes a difference too.”