Thanks to Minecraft, the weird-it's-so-possible indie sandbox game, my 8th graders know the what a beta is, how to read a changelog, and why it's fun to follow developer blogs. They also spend their free time doing something that, while perhaps not as productive as actual schoolwork, involves a good deal of creativity and problem-solving.
(In case you haven't seen it before, Minecraft has you running around a pixelated world mining different terrain blocks and using them to build stuff. Then at night, monsters come out and you hope the stuff you built protects you. I think.)