Since its release, Minecraft has captured the hearts and minds of a generation. Boasting over 100 million users all over the globe, Minecraft is now the third best selling game of all time behind Tetris and Wii Sports, and the game continues to sell 10,000 units per day with no sign of deceleration. Yes, there have been best-selling games before, but most parents are beginning to realize that Minecraft feels different. Minecraft is more than a game – it’s an alternate universe, a cultural scene, a coding platform, and tinkerer’s paradise. For both the well-versed parent as well as the uninitiated it is inevitable that this wildly popular game will cross your path. Here are 7 surprising things that every parent should know about Minecraft.
1. Minecraft YouTube videos have overtaken cable TV
Have Stampylonghead and Sky taken over your child’s mobile device? Not surprisingly, YouTube is crushing cable TV with the younger demographic. According to YouTube video research firm Newzoo (yes, this is a new industry), Minecraft is now officially the most watched video game on YouTube. YouTubers such as CaptainsSparklez have amassed nearly 10 million subscribers and 2.5 billion video views, and the latest tracker released by SeusCraft show that these growth trends are accelerating. In the playground and schoolyards, children watch and share YouTube Minecraft videos, while learning about impressive new Minecraft mods ( modifications), fun maps, and other changes to the game. Many CodaKid parents ask how these videos have become a cultural phenomenon. Our answer is that YouTube personalities are kid-friendly, understand children’s humor, and have a knack for picking mods and maps that are high interest. As a reward, they are reaping millions of dollars annually in YouTube royalties.
2. Minecraft can motivate students to learn how to code
Perhaps one of the most unexpected byproducts of Minecraft’s open architecture is that it allows users to access its source code through a dynamic program called Forge. At CodaKid we have leveraged children’s fascination with Minecraft “mods” and used this as a motivational tool to encourage them to learn Java programming. Mods (short for modifications) are changes to the Minecraft game that give its characters, objects, and landscapes new and surprising characteristics. In order to “mod” Minecraft, students must learn to to code using Java, one of the most popular programming languages in the world. Coding has been traditionally taught to kids using drag and drop tools like Scratch or closed platforms like Code.org. These tools are fine and in our early days as an academy we certainly used them. But the moment we unveiled the industry’s first comprehensive, multi-year Minecraft Modding with Java curricula, we had kids literally jumping out of their seats with excitement. We said goodbye to “Hello World” (a traditional method of teaching computer science) and adopted this new and innovative approach.
3. Downloading mods can be dangerous
Many students learn about new Minecraft Mods on YouTube and on other fan sites. Students inevitably want to download mods from the internet and to try them in their own version of Minecraft. Due to the sheer volume of mod downloads, mods have unfortunately become a target for hackers and identity thieves and it is important that parents monitor the safety of the sites that children frequent. CodaKid’s team has created a couple of videos that can give you some helpful advice on how to download mods safely from the Internet and how to install your own mods on both Mac and PC. For the PC tutorial click here, and for the Mac tutorial click here. We hope that you enjoy them.
4. Minecraft can be fun for parents (Yes, really!)
Think that Minecraft is just a kid’s game? Think again! Millions of parents all over the world have discovered the game and of Minecraft’s 10,000 daily unit sales, many of the players are adults, parents, and grandparents who have purchased it for themselves. According to Minecraft data, the average age of Minecraft players is between 28 and 29. Minecraft has several modes that can accommodate nearly everyone – from non-technical neophytes to experienced gamers and even professional programmers. In addition to playing Minecraft for your own enjoyment, learning and playing the game is an excellent way to bond with your child.
5. You will become a hero with your child and her friends if you can set up a Minecraft server
One way to ensure that your child is playing multiplayer Minecraft in a safe and secure environment is to set up a private server for her and her friends. Building a server is quite easy and fun, and you will gain legendary status among your child and her friends by helping facilitate this. Simple server setup guides can be found at this Wiki and there are a number of excellent YouTube tutorials as well.
6. Minecraft Modding is a fantastic activity for students with learning differences
At CodaKid, through our Minecraft coding courses we have worked with hundreds of students with Autism, Aspergers, and ADD/ADHD. We have found that our Minecraft coding courses are enormously helpful in improving concentration, strengthening reading and math skills, and improving social interactions with collaborative, project-based learning activities. While it is difficult to make generalizations about the unique needs of students with learning differences, coding requires tenacity, persistence, and problem-solving and our parents report that our classes have been beneficial in building real world skills, increased concentration, and improved self-esteem.
7. Minecraft boosts creativity
Many believe that Minecraft is what Lego should have created in a video game. It has been compared to virtual Legos, but in fact there is so much more. For example, Minecraft’s peaceful mode allows the player to live in a world without enemies so you can focus on building amazing structures, natural wonders, and scenes of beauty. (Think of Legos, but without the mess). One builder took almost 400 hours to build the masterpiece above which has been featured in a number of prominent magazines and blogs.