“Mom, I don’t want to eat dinner right now; a Creeper killed my character and I have to restart everything!”
Sound familiar? Don’t worry – you’re not alone! Nearly every parent with a young Minecraft player at home has likely heard variations of this around suppertime. In Minecraft – A Parent’s Survival Guide, we will explore the game that has taken the world by storm, its allure, and ways in which we can help make our children’s Minecraft time productive.
What is Minecraft?
Minecraft is a “sandbox” style video game that allows the player to create virtual worlds while using resources found throughout the game.
As the creators of Minecraft put it: “Minecraft is a game about breaking and placing blocks. At first people built structures to protect against nocturnal enemies, but as the game grew players worked together to create wonderful, imaginative things.”
Minecraft allows almost complete freedom for each player to create structures, cities, castles, and bridges while trying to survive the onslaught from various foes in the game – Skeletons, Spiders, Creepers, and other enemies. Each player can choose one of four modes: Survival, Hardcore, Adventuring, and Creative. While the first two focus primarily on defense from enemies, building shelters, and farming for food, Adventuring and Creative modes allow more room for exploration and creative expression. The Minecraft world is made from blocks that it many ways make the game seem outdated and trivial compared to games that were created even twenty year ago. This leads us to our next question:
What’s so addictive about Minecraft, anyway?
Minecraft is one of the best-selling video games of all time, and has become a cultural phenomenon with children worldwide.
While there is lots to explore in Minecraft, every world is unique and is shaped by the player’s imagination. Users can craft pickaxes for mining, build complex structures from scratch, and dig to the infinite depths of the land in the quest for gold, diamonds, and emeralds. Farming, crafting, and building can lead to infinite realities. One brilliant parent once compared it to Legos — but without the mess. We see it as a whole lot more!
Minecraft is very different from other Role Playing Games (RPGs). Your child can actually learn from this game while having fun, and the game’s violence factor (while rated E-10 by ESRB), is about as tame as an old-fashioned Disney cartoon. While the game looks retro, the way in which it allows customization – both inside gameplay and by allowing players access to its source code – makes this game truly ground-breaking and most certainly one of the most important games of its generation.
Here is an example of a cool landscape and some interesting structures that kids have created in Minecraft:
While some maps replicate real-life cities, there are plenty of other worlds that introduce fantastical dimensions, worlds made of diamonds, landscapes filled with lava, and more.
Why is my kid spending hours on Youtube watching Minecraft videos?
Minecraft YouTubers are the latest rage, and some of the most popular YouTubers such as CaptainSparklz and StampyLongNose have amassed millions of followers and tens of millions of views. These YouTube personalities that your children might be watching are highly amusing for kids, and they have mastered the art of narration as they take their characters through crazy mazes, exciting puzzles, and creative mods. It might surprise you that YouTubers like Dave Maron (CaptainSparklz) raked in over $3M last year in YouTube royalties due to the tremendous following he has attained and the number of ads that were shown on his channel. Through these YouTube videos, kids witness exciting worlds, thrilling mods, and other unique challenges, and become even more entranced by the possibilities inherent in the Minecraft game.
How can I make my child’s time with Minecraft more educational?
Minecraft is already used in thousands of schools whose educators have reported tremendous value in the way that Minecraft promotes project-based learning, digital team-work, and problem-solving. There are, however, other ways to make sure your child’s time on Minecraft is productive and educational. One of the most interesting ways to do this is by using Minecraft to teach your kid how to code in Java. Online courses like CodaKid’s Mod Creation (Minecraft Modding with Java) teach kids coding foundations like conditionals, loops, variables, parameters, and arrays, while allowing kids to create their own mods in the game. This approach provides an engaging way to teach coding, and kids will find extra motivation to learn when they see all of the custom features that they can add to the game.
How can I be more involved in my kid’s learning process?
A great way to get familiar with the game and adopt a hands-on approach to your child’s learning adventure would be to play Minecraft along with her. You could learn to set up a server at home (free option) if you have basic tech skills and can follow some online tutorials. Another option is to pay $7.99 per month and purchase Minecraft Realms, a fun and safe way for you and your child to play multiplayer Minecraft with friends and family.
If you would like to use Minecraft to teach your child Java programming, you can look for some free YouTube tutorials online (free option) or you could try courses like CodaKid. Kids will often be very motivated to learn coding when they find that they can create their own custom sword, pickaxe, or biome and place their creation in the game. It’s fun for kids and it’s also educational and intellectually stimulating for parents.
- Be careful before letting your child download mods from the Internet
- Encourage your child to show you what he or she has created
We hope you’ve enjoyed Minecraft – A Parent’s Survival Guide. Have any other insights that have proven useful in helping your child get the most out of Minecraft? Please leave comments below!