Video games are a large part of our children’s lives in this day and age. Our kids will often talk to us about the games they’re playing and, if we’re not familiar with the game, what they’re telling us can be confusing. If your child’s game of choice is Minecraft you may hear about everything from creepers and zombies to “bed wars” and the “ender dragon.” My son and I play Minecraft together and I think it is a great game for kids, Given that I decided to write an intro to the game for parents.
What is Minecraft?
Minecraft is a “sandbox” video game that allows players to explore, build, and survive in an open-world environment made entirely of blocks. Each of these blocks represents a different material such as dirt, stone, wood, and metal that can be collected. These blocks can be crafted into tools that can, in turn, be used to build everything from houses to machines. The only limit to what can be built is the limit of the players imagination. The official introduction to Minecraft can be found here.
How is Minecraft Played?
There are three main ways that Minecraft is played: Creative Mode, Survival Mode, and Adventure Mode. For those familiar with the game this statement will feel like an oversimplification. But, for sake of this discussion, it will suffice. In Creative and Survival modes Minecraft will generate a world for you to explore. In Adventure mode the player downloads a world that someone else has created to explore. Let’s take a look at these different modes in further detail.
What is Creative Mode?
Creative mode in Minecraft is a mode where you can build anything you’d like. You have access to all of the different blocks and items in the game. You can take these items and build houses, castles, or places that can be explored by other players. Players can even fly in this mode and zoom into the sky to look at what they’ve created from another angle.
Note: I mentioned earlier that worlds created by another player can be downloaded to explore. If someone has created a world to tell a story for players to adventure through they would have created this world in Creative Mode.
What is Survival Mode?
Survival mode exists to provide more of a challenge to the player. Instead of having access to all of the materials in the game, players will have to find and gather them (or mine them, if you will). There is also a day/night cycle in survival mode. At night time (or in places that are dark such as a cave) creatures will spawn that are hostile to the player and the player will have to defend themselves. For parents worried about their kids playing games where there is fighting, let me assure you that the creatures that spawn are fictional and drawn in a cartoon style. They are there to add some challenge to the game and even provide some items that can be used in crafting. Fighting these creatures is not the main point of the game (though there are a few “bosses” that are meant to be defeated). The most common of the creatures include zombies, skeletons, spiders, and “creepers” (green creatures that will explode upon getting close to a player).
Additionally there are several challenges present in survival mode. While they are more advanced topics than we need to discuss here they are good to know about as something to keep interest in the game. These include:
- Entering and exploring “The Nether“
- Defeating the Ender Dragon
- Defeating the “Wither”
What is Adventure Mode?
Adventure mode is akin to a story mode where the player is guided along a particular set of actions that are part of the story. The worlds that contain these stories have been created by other players and are available from the Minecraft marketplace. As your kids get more involved in Minecraft it might be possible that they would want to create a world like this for others to play in.
Additional Information – Minecraft Versions And Servers
There are two other concepts related to Minecraft that are relevant to you as a parent:
- There are two versions of Minecraft: Bedrock Edition and Java Edition
- If your kids play Minecraft on a device such as an iPad or game console (Xbox, Playstation, Switch) they are playing on Bedrock Edition
- If they are playing on a computer they have access to both editions of the game. Java Edition announces itself as such and your kids will likely know that they are playing that edition.
- There are servers that many people can connect to and play on Minecraft worlds together. I have a written a post about why players might want to have their own server.
- If your children are playing Minecraft on a device such as a Nintendo switch they might try to connect to a hosted server that they or a friend has paid for. If they’re having trouble we have a post about how to connect to servers that aren’t on the built in list of approved servers.
Minecraft is an incredible game that allows for endless creativity and fun. My hope is that you will take a look at it, understand why your kids are hooked on playing it, and, possibly, join them in the fun!