Minecraft – More than Just Blocks
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Minecraft is a game that can be downloaded and played alone, (available for Windows, Mac, Android or iOS…pretty much anywhere) without being connected to the internet, or played online, which allows for interaction with other players. While this might sound good at first glance, it can actually be extremely aggravating. You (or your kid in this case) gain items that you need by mining for them. You mine the trees, and not just the ground. This is a lot of left-clicking going on when you play this game. (Adults like it, too, and it can be very addicting!)
What do you have to do?
The main goal is to build a house, which takes several steps to complete. However, without this house, the character is quite vulnerable to creatures that run amok in the night. If a character has a house, they can enter, lock the door, and sleep the night away. This can speed up the game. If a character wants to say up all night, say, to build something inside their house, they can also do that, and have extra time. The aggravation part comes into play with other players who decide to wreck whatever structures the character your child is playing has built. These structures can
become quite elaborate* (more on this later), and are often very time-intensive.
Playing offline completely prevents this. If your child has some good friends who don’t like playing pranks on each other, playing online with them might be a great way to stay in touch online, though. It’s an option that you can use or recommend if it seems right for your child.
My son has played online a few times and really liked it after he got over the aggravation of the other players messing up his stuff. He was soon messing up their buildings. So, I don’t know if mutual destruction was good or not. He ended up saying they all should have helped each other instead, because everyone ended up with nothing.
How Scary are the Creatures in Minecraft?
There’s a certain creature called Enderman. This thing likes to steal blocks sporadically, and while it doesn’t destroy anything, it does make some holes, which then need to be replaced. Apparently it is especially fond of pumpkins. Yes, this game is extremely complicated, but not in a mathematical way. It has many nuances that seem to come and go depending on which version of the game your child is playing.
Creepers are quite comical looking, to be honest. So are zombies, which look a lot like green villagers. Yes, there are villagers in Minecraft, and they love to trade. They don’t speak, or seem to have any rhyme or reason to them, but they have good resources for the more serious kids who play. Each version of the game adds something and it has various creatures, some friendly, some not, and some, like dogs that you gain as friends.
Other creatures that are available are horses, fish, and pigs that you can ride. Cave spiders lie in caves, and come out at night. Zombies also come out. Witches live in swamps in tiny houses, and might not be at hoe but sometimes appear to ‘greet’ visitors. Then there are the Creepers, who blow up if you’re in anything but creative mode when they get close to you. They’ll sneak up behind you and go BOOM!
Sounds Tame, What’s the Catch?
The catch really isn’t with the game itself. As discussed previously, with Five Nights at Freddy’s videos and other online items are sometimes scarier than the game. The game itself acts like it is trying to be scary, but it’s not.
There are many that direct kids to go to certain sites, and the links are embedded, to download items called texture packs. These work sometimes, and sometimes, they do absolutely nothing. I personally am worried about a virus being in one of them. These are made by ‘advanced users of the game’ (or adults), and are not from Minecraft. I’ve never found any that charged a fee to download, making it really easy for kids to download them. There are easy to follow directions to install them in the game, also.
Other videos are silly and quite entertaining. One video, Don’t Mine at Night, is quite funny. There are also Minecraft-themed parodies which can bring back some memories. There are also different semi-celebrities whose claim-to-fame centers on how they play the game. One, DanTDM, is a favorite of my son. He irritates me, though, as he’s too happy, and no adult has the ability to be that happy. He likes to play super-scary games called ‘mods’ which is short for modifications. As he is playing, things jump out at him. I’m quite sure these are other players who are working with him, though. He’s now endorsed by Minecraft, so he most likely has all sorts of tricks at his disposal.
Is it Educational at All?
Minecraft, in my opinion as both a homeschooling Mom and also a teacher of various grades in two different school systems, is very educational. It helps kids continue thinking outside of the box, by having them build with blocks. This game is used by many school districts. It can help kids with problem-solving, building, social studies, and a lot of other things.
You better believe it. There is nothing like seeing a structure you thought was so perfectly planned be messed up in the end because you didn’t count right.
Another thing about Minecraft’s online presence is that there are many books available on Amazon.com. These are not literary masterpieces by any means, but it will get your kids to read.
This is a Green Flag. Nothing here is really going to screw your child up. Just be cautious with related materials online like the texture packs. The game itself is much more educational than it is scary (and has been out for quite a while). For both kids and adults, it’s a lot of fun.
*My students were really surprised to find out I had built a seven story floating house one time. Just watch for addictive behavior.
Submitted by a guest author.