They sure can. This is what people from Los Angeles Makerspace seem to believe. LA Makerspace is a non- profit organisation dealing with science, math, art and technology and they just proposed a camp for children who want to learn coding, which will use as a teaching tool… a video game.
Minecraft is the name of the game, which works slightly like Sims: there are not a lot of rules, there is no danger of someone killing you in every step, and it is a game for building worlds, shelters, creating tools and going on missions.
The video game will be the main teaching tool in a camp designed for teaching children how to code and problem-solve. The goal of the camp is to do so in a way that will keep the kids interest: what easier way can be found than games? Learning to code from a young age has a great effect on a modern child’s aptitude, as the things they will be expected to know differ greatly than children of previous generations. On top of all that, the Minecraft camps will have as teachers students of university or high school, in an effort to tackle youth unemployment in LA. Also, there is an effort being made to offer such workshops in challenged social groups, for example children of color, in order to enhance diversity in the field of technology, which is nowhere near happening up until now.
Check out the video of the program to find out more.