Quick Answers to Your MC Parent Questions
What is Minecraft©?
Minecraft© is a game that takes place in a 3D World where the player is free to roam and explore.
It is called "Minecraft" because it is centered around "mining" for basic materials in the ground and then "crafting" those materials into a wide variety of things (blocks, tools, food, etc.).
It is much more open-ended than most games because there usually is no definite objective.
It is called a "Sandbox" game because it allows users to play around, explore, and create what they want.
There are three ways you can play Minecraft:
What are the potential problems with Minecraft©?
One potential problem for kids playing Minecraft© would be spending too much time on it.
As it is a game that involves collecting goods and building up your assets from scratch, it can be addictive in the same way many games today can be addictive. As kids play more, they quickly gain a real sense of expertise over the world and the rules that govern it, which kids really enjoy.
When playing on a public multiplayer server, there is also a slight risk of being exposed to inappropriate language from other users. Although there are administrators of these servers who are in charge of monitoring this type of frowned-upon behavior, some inappropriate language can sneak through. The same caution should be applied here as is in any internet browsing.
Is Minecraft© safe to play?
Playing Minecraft© by yourself on your own computer is 100% safe and appropriate for all ages.
There is no real graphic violence or mature themes - just exploring and defending against the mysterious creatures that come out at night (Skeletons, Spiders, and strange green monsters called "Creepers")
Playing Minecraft© on a public multiplayer server can be unsafe to the extent that any public internet browsing can be unsafe. Users on these servers are able to write public messages to each other (similar to a Facebook wall), and while there are safeguards in place to prevent people from swearing and being rude to each other, there could always be a user online who does obey the rules or etiquette. As long as your child understands this and knows how to deal with the risks of internet browsing in general (such as watching YouTube videos responsibly), they should be fine on one of these public multiplayer servers.
Are their any positive uses for Minecraft©? Are there any benefits?
There are a lot of really positive uses for Minecraft©.
First of all, single-player Minecraft© requires critical thinking and creativity. Players must choose how and where to invest their time and resources in order to accomplish their goals and build what they want.
Second, on a local server or on a public multiplayer server, players collaborate and work together to accomplish tasks they would not be able to accomplish on their own. For example, they could combine their assets to build a giant replica of the empire state building out of blocks!
Third, Minecraft©© exposes students to foundational computer knowledge and vernacular that they would not likely encounter, otherwise. For example, many young Minecraft© users now feel comfortable talking about IP Addresses, Servers and Clients, and Command Line operations.
Fourth, Minecraft© is also being implemented in classrooms all over the world in order to teach subjects in the core curriculum. Math teachers are using it for lessons on X, Y, and Z coordinate systems, Physics teachers for the Laws of Motion, and even History teachers for re-enactments of important historical events.
Finally, students can also use Minecraft© as a springboard to learn to program in the Java Programming Language. Students who want to write their own Mods have to learn the basics of Java in order to do so. This is an exciting educational opportunity because it gets kids really excited about learning programming, which can be a very dry topic.
We are actually currently teaching "Mod Design/Java" classes at our studio in Durham, NC and the students are loving it!
Is it safe for my student to set up a server?
If your child is really interested in Minecraft©, you have likely heard them ask if they can "Set up a Server". What they mean by this is that they'd like to create a map of their own and invite their friends to play with them, all hosted by your home computer.
Here is what Minecraft© Wiki states:
Warning: Before following these instructions please note that running server software on your computer without a clear understanding of what you are doing may seriously harm your system and lead to vulnerabilities. Do not open ports in your router without knowing exactly what you are doing."
If done correctly, setting up a server can be done securely. The difficult part is getting the server set up in the first place, which requires some technical work and possibly some troubleshooting.
Luckily, there are a lot of really good resources out there for setting up a server. Here's a link to a clear video explaining how to do it and here is the best text-based tutorial from Minecraft© Wiki.
Our Mod Design 1 course teaches students ages 8-14 how to create modifications to Minecraft© using JAVA.