10 Things to know about Minecraft
Delivering a recent INSET on Minecraft in the classroom for the first time, I quickly realized how daunting the Minecraft world is to novice users. Many of the teachers in the room had children who played the game at home, they all had pupils in their classrooms who were Minecraft experts and openly felt it was a too complex area to understand fully. As part of that session, I gave a quick crash course in the basics of Minecraft followed by ways in which it can be used in the classroom and at home. By the end of the day staff were starting to see the benefits of using Minecraft in the classroom and on the whole were less daunted than before.
As your children will quickly tell you, it takes a long time to truly understand Minecraft and to become a real expert. But by asking questions and having a go, you can quickly get the hang of things. Let your child teach you; they will probably be surprised that you want to know and watch their enthusiasm grow as they do.
To get you ahead of the game, here are 10 pieces of information to get that conversation started.
- Minecraft was created by Swedish programmer Markus “Notch” Persson and later developed and published by Mojang. In 2014, Microsoft bought Minecraft for $2.5 billion, and an education version is set to be released in summer 2016.
- Minecraft is often described as a ‘sandbox game’. This means that it’s a virtual land where users can create their worlds and experiences, using building blocks, resources discovered on the site and their own creativity.
- The game is available on multiple platforms. You can play on a computer, smartphone, tablet, X-Box or Playstation. It is growing in popularity day by day, especially among primary-aged children.
- The game can be played in different modes; the two main modes are survival and creative. In survival, the aim is to gather natural resources such as wood and various stones by digging or mining. These resources are added to the player’s inventory, which can be drawn upon throughout the game. These resources can be combined or crafted to create other resources. All of which can help you to survive attacks from monsters, falls, lava, starvation and other events.
- In creative mode, you begin the game with a full inventory with creative ability. Here you can let your imagination run wild and is a good starting point when playing for the first time.
- Steve is the main character or ‘skin’ in the game. You can play as Steve or change to another name if you wish. Other characters in the game include Creepers, Enderman, Pigmen, Witches, Zombies, Spider Jockeys, Cave Spiders and much more. To explain what they all do would take too long and I would be depriving your children the fun in doing so.
- ‘The Nether’ is a hell-like dimension, filled with fire, lakes and rivers of lava, and dangerous and powerful mobs. The Nether is horizontally infinite. You don’t want to go to the Nether!
- Biomes are the different regions in the Minecraft world, such as jungles, forests, and deserts. They have their own climatic and environmental features, including rain cycles, variations in grass or plant life, and even geographical structures, such as rivers and mountains.
- Redstone is one of the raw materials that can be found in the world of Minecraft and is one of the most popular and malleable materials in the game. It can be used to or craft components. However, its most important feature is its ability to power devices such as doors, pistons, lights, and mine carts.
- Finally, ask your child what a ‘mod’ is. Once you memorize the above, learning about ‘mods’ is the next level and nothing whatsoever to do with scooters or ‘The Who’.
The best sources of information on Minecraft are the children themselves. You will get more from a 5 minute conversation with a child about Minecraft, than you will from trawling the internet. Yes you may get pages and pages of information, but you won’t see their wide-eyed enthusiasm when talking. Minecraft has come from nowhere and taken the world by surprise; before the game was thought of as an education tool, the children had moved in and made it their own. They have taken the game to new levels in creativity, and the possibilities are endless.