By now, moms, you must have heard “Mojang is a genius!”, “Oh no, creepers are here!”, and “Oh no, I have to build myself a better shelter to keep the creepers out!” There is no doubt that the popularity of Minecraft amongst kids has skyrocketed in last few years.
Minecraft is a sandbox construction game where you can build anything you can imagine. It also has scary monsters, like creepers who tend to want to sneak up behind you and kill you, and worse, destroy what you have spent hours building. Playing the game involves placing and breaking various types of blocks, mining for rare minerals and surviving in a three-dimensional world. The game has an auto-generated map, and players can walk into different biomes for exploring or mining. In play you encounter non-violent animals like pigs, chicken and cows that you can hunt for food and violent creatures like very evil green creepers, mobs, spiders and skeletons that hurt you. But the good thing is that these very unlikable characters only appear in night or dark places. As long as you hole up in a safe shelter at night and light up a few torches in dark places, you are good to survive the night for an extra day of happy smelting.
The game can be played in survival, creative and multiplayer mode. The best way to learn how to play is in survival mode on “Easy” difficulty, so while you are learning to craft tools like shovels and pickaxes, you won’t be killed by monsters (as quickly). You just to have to remember to build a safe shelter or get into a shelter your kids have built for themselves (honestly, it’s easier). In creative mode players have access to almost all resources and can fly freely around the game worlds and do not get hurt. This is my least favorite mode as I feel all the excitement is lost but you do get lot of practice building structures and crafting tools.
In multiplayer mode kids can either set up their own private servers or play on many servers hosted by third parties. In LAN mode kids play on locally interconnected computers on the same Wi-Fi network without a server set up.
On a side note, Minecraft has been used as teaching tool to teach history and science. One teacher even built many historical landmarks for kids to explore. I have even seen a fully automated farm designed by someone with switches and logic gates. So moms,play a game of Minecraft with your kid, and who knows — they might even design you a truly automated washing machine that can load, wash, dry and fold all your clothes to lessen your workload.