Minecraft is without doubt one of the most compelling games ever invented. This is all thanks to Swedish game designer Markus Persson (@notch) who first released Minecraft back in November 2011. Minecraft is available for PC, Mac OSX, Android, iOs and XBox so there are plenty of ways to play. Minecraft and parent company Mojang were sold to Microsoft in 2014, this was a controversial move and there has been plenty of discussion on the subject.
Many/most nine year olds and up will be familiar with Minecraft and will be using it to build their own worlds and explore with their friends. They’ll all know the default character, Steve.
So, as a Minecraft Parent and IT all rounder here are some of the things I discovered?
Minecraft is a type of simulator, not strictly a game. Which is to say that when you enter a Minecraft world you discover that there is no end point. If your character dies (in Survival Mode) then they can restart again. As this is a simulation you need to remember to collect food, eat and build a shelter to avoid the spiders, creepers, zombies and other nasties.
There are several modes:
- Creative Mode. Here you have unlimited resources and your pick of all the materials available. All this without having to mine for anything. Not only that you get all the monster eggs so you can fill the world with chickens if you really want to. You can fly in this mode as well as mine and explore.
- Survival Mode. Pit your wits against the world. Here you can live or ‘die’ by your actions. Forget to eat and your character will starve, forget to paddle when swimming you will drown. There is day and night, no shelter means you will be attacked by zombies, spiders and creepers – all of which will kill you. Of course you can fight back with a stick or even a sword you made for yourself from your mining activities.
- Spectator Mode. This mode basically allows you to fly around but you can’t interact with the world in any way. However, it is possible to take the perspective of many of the entities in Minecraft.
Generally, if playing on your phone/tablet, you will be in single player mode. It is possible though for other people at home to join your world and play along with you. This is achieved by going to the options and switching on Multiplayer Game.
But that’s just a beginning. Many servers exist with MMORPG setups that allow hundreds of players to participate.
As a simulator, and as it is very programmable, there have been many multiplayer games developed for Minecraft. Here’s a quick list:
- Hunger Games. Yes! Join the server and you can slay and play just like the real thing.
- Capture the Flag. An old favourite. Teams go up against each other to win the opponents flag, same as in Halo, World of Tanks and so many other games.
- Hide’n’Seek. So you have to survive for 5-25 minutes in this one. There are hiders and seekers. As a hider you get to disguise yourself as anything from a flowerpot to a pig. The seekers have weapons and if you are caught it’s the end for you. Stay very still or just don’t get caught moving around.
There are loads more games and a web search for ‘minecraft games’ will take you a long way.
MinecraftEdu makes it possible for Minecraft to be used as an educational tool. This seems to occur more in the US than the UK but it is a great thing. Yet another indicator of the awesome possibilities of Minecraft.
Here is a great article on setting up and using MinecraftEdu, at the end is a list of the educational standards (US) that are promoted through the use of this version. http://educade.org/lesson_plans/getting-started-with-minecraftedu
There is so much more to explore in Minecraft, it’s a great resource.