I have spent the majority of my professional career building edtech products. First I taught tens of thousands of students Chinese and Japanese, then I taught millions of kids to code. I know a lot about building educational products; games in particular. As a lover of Minecraft and an edtech game designer, I'm here to tell you that Minecraft isn't an educational game.
For those not familiar, Minecraft has several game modes none of which are games in the sense of having levels, bosses, missions, and achievements. Minecraft more closely resembles a digital sandbox with varying levels of abstraction. Survival mode is a bounded sandbox with randomly generating baddies. Creative mode is digital Legos. None of Minecraft's game modes explicitly teach the player anything. That's right: there is no educational content in Minecraft whatsoever. There are no lessons, tutorials, grades, or tests, there is no backstory, no plot, no puzzles, no brainteasers, riddles, math, or history. Nothing in the game tries to teach anyone anything.
I hear you crying out "but Minecraft holds kid's interest long enough that they learn to mod the game, or build simple circuits, or build historic structures. Surely that's educational!"
But take a look at that line of reasoning again: the advocates don't claim that Minecraft teaches anything. They claim that kids like it enough that they may end up teaching themselves something unrelated while playing. The girl who likes computers learns enough Java to mod the game. The boy that likes building things constructs interesting structures. But to say that learning in the pursuit of addictive entertainment is educational is sloppy and unfair reasoning. By that same logic, Grand Theft Auto 5 is educational because some kids get so into it that they memorize the geography of LA to minimize transit between missions .
The reason that parents, schools, and kids call Minecraft educational is that it combines the addictive behavior of video games with the least offensive content imaginable. What learning occurs in the course of that addiction is labeled educational, but is no more useful to kids than anything else they voluntarily spend equal amounts of time on.
Why does the distinction matter? Because it's misleading educators and game designers. Spoiler alert for people making edtech games: there's very little to learn from Minecraft because as I mentioned above, it doesn't teach anything. Spoiler alert for teachers: Minecraft won't teach your students anything useful .
I love Minecraft and have played for much longer than I'd like to admit. So has my wife. So has my brother. As a game, it's great; but as education, it's no better than World of Warcraft. If you want your kid to learn, you'd be better off letting them follow their interests and educating themselves.
 Yeah, yeah, "Los Santos." Everyone knows it's LA.
 Even though it will keep them entertained for a class period with little to no chance that parents will complain.