4 types of Gamers


Minecraft Learning strives to reach a variety of learners, at all different stages of development and academic skill.  Addressing grade level curriculum is a major goal in creating the games for the Minecraft Learning server, but I came across another concern recently.  I also need to keep the different gamer types involved.

Computer games have been around for a long time.  I don't know the entire background of educational game development, and as I research the topic I am finding more and more interesting and involved articles and papers.  One such paper was research conducted to find out about online role playing games.  These might be similar to dungeons and dragons role playing/adventure games, but online and usually text based.  This research pointed out that there are usually four types of gamers. These types relate to how they interact with the game and other players.  I find that in Minecraft the same types and responses take place.

4 types of gamers

  1. Killers
  2. Achievers
  3. Socializers
  4. Explorers


This image is from Richard Bartle's paper published in 1996, "Players Who Suit MUDs".  It shows how the different players react and act to the world and other players.  From my experience every player is not just one of these types, but depending on the game can move from one to the other. 

The killers enjoy acting. 

Whether it is beating the enemy or other players they are looking to destroy something. They are allways looking for competition and want to impose upon others in the game.  Causing distress to other players is paramount to enjoyment of the game.

The achievers enjoy acting as well. 

This time though, they are trying to achieve in-game goals and they will try as hard as possible to acieve them. These players want to accumulate and make use of high value treasures in the game. Gathering points and raising their levels is the main goal of the game and these palyers love to accumulate the riches of the game.

The socializers enjoy socializing with others in the game.

They want to interact with other players.  It might be by providing a service or communicating and applying role playing features of the game. The socializer is interested in the other players and the game is just a backdrop to the real interaction.  The relationships are important and even if just observing another player, the interaction with others is desireable.

The explorers will try to find out as much as possible. 

They are interacting with as much of the game as is possible. It can mean mapping the topology and exploring all parts of the game world, but it can also mean testing out the physics and experimenting with all of the posibilities provided.  The explorer will delight in trying to find out the inner workings of the game.  Maybe even looking for glitches or bugs that can be utilized.  Knowledge is king.

You may recognize some of these traits in watching your children play Minecraft.  Of course it may depend on what server they are playing on.  Some servers are created to appeal to just on type of player, often the killers.  i.e. hunger games.

I have been trying to incorporate a little bit for each of these gamers types is every server world created for Minecraft Learning.  In the first sessions of Minecraft Learning I was encountering some games that were big hits and others that were only enjoyed by a few.  I am now trying to make something interesting for each gamer type in the games I use.



7 components to Minecraft Learning for Educational Use

7 components to game-play

I have mentioned before that Minecraft is great for educational uses.  Having a virtual world to test and explore concepts like logic, genetics, problem solving, social skills, goal planning, reading, and problem solving is a teachers dream.  I am using Minecraft to have "students" play games related to their grade level curriculum.  It is always a challenge to connect the games back to the curriculum appropriate for the grade level, while at the same time allowing them to keep the qualities of a good game.

The games developed for the Minecraft Learning server concentrate on Math, Geography, Vocabulary and spelling.  We also use wayfinding, economics, team participation and sustainability.  Although these are part of the games we play, they have not yet been made the dominant focus of any of them.  Each game has the core mechanics of Minecraft, a goal, a challenge, components, rules and spaces.  With a little change to any of these parts I can make another very different game.  So far, I have been able to change the games for each session to keep it interesting for a variety of learners.  In a future article I will write about the four types of gamers I discovered.

Often, one of the biggest complaints about teaching games is the amount of time it can take students to learn how to play.  I think the simplicity and popularity of Minecraft makes it a great candidate for developing learning games.  I have strived to do that and make sure that the games are simple and elegant to help maximize the learning time.  Another great part about using Minecraft is that it fulfills the seven components of game-play that aptly fit curriculum design as stated by KQED.org.


  1.  Challenge is constant
  2.  Everything is interconnected
  3.  Failure is reframed as iteration
  4.  Learning happens by doing
  5.  Feedback is immediate and ongoing
  6.  Everyone is a participant
  7.  It feels like play

There are many Minecraft mods out there to help as well. The MinecraftEDU project offers great tools for teachers to control the Minecraft learning world and the players, but the mod is only available to educational institutions.  I have been challenged with the task of attempting similar things with vanilla Minecraft.  With the recent changes made in the last few updates (Minecraft 1.8) I have been able to replace many of the mods I was using.  I say thanks to Mojang for that.


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Particle effect Christmas Tree

Oh, and Happy New Year!

I was playing around on the Minecraft Learning server making more educational games, when the though occurred to me that the particles in Minecraft might make good decoration for a tree.  It took some playing around, but I finally got a small tree decorated for the holidays. :)

I am looking forward to the next four sessions of Minecraft Learning coming up in February!  We will be playing educational games on the Minecraft Learning server and getting a chance to explore some of the vanilla Minecraft server commandblock settings.  The youtube link is here: http://youtu.be/bsL5oIFF1XY




What is Minecraft all about?

As a parent you can see the popularity of the game, but what is the attraction?  How do you actually play? Is there a way to guide or direct the types of games that your kids will be exposed to?

Minecraft can be virtually anything you want it to be.  I think that is part of the wide appeal.  Minecraft is a game that you can use to make other games.  I have seen Minecraft versions of the game Grand Theft Auto, and even Pacman.  Minecraft has even been used to create games from movies like the Hunger Games and Maze Runner.  Minecraft is even being used in schools and art museums to help educate.  MinecraftEDU is a great mod for helping teachers use Minecraft in the classroom, and I have been creating Minecraft Learning games for over a year now. The game can do so much and is so customizable that it appeals to a very wide base of players.

I found the video below, made by a Minecraft teacher, that gives a basic overview of the game in 17 minutes.  I know there are lots of other videos that show the game but this is good one for beginners.  It is a rather old video and new items and features have been added in the more recent versions of Minecraft, but the basic game play is still well represented.  This is a good starting point for anyone unfamiliar with the game, so instead of making my own video I offer you this by Bob Mills:   http://youtu.be/lad5NzIwYq0



My first Minecraft Cape ever!

My first Minecraft Cape ever!  I am so excited!  For the next 48 hours everyone will have the Scrolls Celebration cape.  The Scrolls-Themed cape is to celebrate the release of Scrolls 1.0, Mojang's other game.

You can watch the video here if it doesn't play: http://youtu.be/v3N1xZ8OqKA

I am working on the next Minecraft Learning class server world and to my delight I found I was wearing a cape.

Minecraft Learning uses concepts from the classroom curriculum and lets students use their skills and ideas in the virtual world of Minecraft.  In Minecraft Learning we play games involving Math, Vocabulary, Geography, and team building to help practice what students have learned in the classroom.


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Minecraft Learning Server Overview

You can view this video on YouTube here: http://youtu.be/Qhs0Qc1apWc

This video gives a brief look at some of the games we play on the Minecraft Learning server.  All of the games were built to work with a vanilla Minecraft server to avoid the outdated version issues that can happen with MinecraftEdu.  It would be much easier to administer with Minecraft Edu, but until the school district purchases a license I will keep up the vanilla versions and worlds.


Minecraft Learning Winter 2015 schedule is out



I am excited to announce that the 2015 Winter/Spring recreation department schedule is out and Minecraft Learning is again being offered!


Sign up early to garauntee a spot.  These classes are conducted at the school computer labs after school.  The class will meet 6 times, but with spring break and easter thrown in the mix the schedule runs longer than 6 weeks.  Hope to see you there.





Minecraft Safety too

peering eye

According to a McAfee Teens and Screens study, cyberbullying tripled in 2014.  Eighty-seven percent of preteens and teens witnessed cyberbullying last year. Cyberbullying doesn't just happen online, often it can follow children offline and could make them more susceptible to offline bullying.  In light of this it is even more important for parents to be aware of risky behavior and online activity.

5 tips for parents to help educate children about cyberbullying:

  1. Make a connection. Talk casually to them about the risks of online connections and make sure you have an open line of communication with them.
  2. Learn technology. Stay up-to-date about the devices they use.  Research the various devices they have and stay better informed than they are about their technology.
  3. Be social.  Not just with other parents, stay knowledgable about the newest social networks.  Social networks pop up all the time.  You don't have to create an account, but be aware of how they work and what information can be shared.  Especially if your children are using them.
  4. Get access.  I make it a rule that I have to know all of their passwords and accounts for devices, gaming and social media accounts. Parents should have full access at any given moment to all of these.
  5. Manage your childs reputation. Make sure your children realize that anything they ever post online can come back later.  Information on the internet does not have an expiration date.

These are just some of the things you can do to help protect your children and yourself when online.


First Annual - North Shore Minecraft Building Competition

First Annual North Shore Minecraft Building Competition

Steve Mines

Saturday October 11th  at Whitefish Bay Library and Saturday November 15th at the Shorewood Library.  The Whitefish Bay and Shorewood Public Libraries are getting together to host two Minecraft creative building competitions! Competition open to Grades 5-8, More details are available at the libraries.


Minecraft safety


In my post about reasons to love Minecraft I mention that it IS a safe game to play. There are a few caveats though. Below I outline how to control the game play. The first and formost consideration is that you do need to pay attention to where your children play. Minecraft is a multi-player game, that is part of what makes it so fun. Llike many multi-player games it has a chat feature, and that is where the biggest danger lies. .

When do you need to worry about turning chat off in Minecraft and how do you do it?

The chat feature can be handy, but often when you play on the internet you can run into language that is inappropriate. There are also concerns about bad people that may coax information or entice children. The easiest way to handle this is to stay off of public servers on the internet.


Four ways to play Minecraft:

When you play Minecraft you have the option to play single player, singleplayer LAN world, Minecraft Realms or mulitplayer. Listed as safest to most open. Each of these will offer a different level of security. If you regulate your children to specific modes it will be up to you to monitor their play. There is no way, currently, to remove the multiplayer mode to keep your kids off the Internet games and servers.

Single player:

This game mode is just as it says, your child will play in a world by themselves. There is no way other players can share in the world and play at the same time. This is a very fun way to play when you are starting out. The challenges are all against the game and the monsters, or you can decide to create wonderful things in Creative mode.

Minecraft has three basic types of game play that can be used in any world, but they really are useful for keeping your child's attention when playing singleplayer mode. The first type is Survival Mode. In this mode your character starts in an empty world and needs to find food and resources to survive. The days are 15 minutes long and then the monsters start to come out at night, if you want monsters. Survival mode has four levels of difficulty as well. Peaceful (no monsters), Easy, Normal, and Hard. Each level controls the number of monsters that will be in your world and how difficult it may be to get rid of them.

The next playing style is Hardcore Mode. The same options are available as in the survival mode, but in Hardcore mode your character can only die ONCE. When your character dies, the world you were playing in is erased. This can offer a challenge to see how long you can survive at different levels of difficulty. It also offers a new level of stress to your survival struggle because if you die you can't go back.

The final is Creative Mode. This mode gives your character access to all of the blocks and items, and as many as your heart desires. This is great for building, experimenting with the game mechanics, or creating special worlds that can be played later in a different game mode.

Single player LAN world:

All of the single player worlds and game modes mentioned above can be made into local multi-player worlds if you want. When you create a LAN world the computer that the host player (the person that executes open to LAN) is playing on becomes a game server and other players on your home network are able to join the world and help create, adventure, or survive. This mode works with wired or WiFi networks so friends can play together under your supervision.

LAN worlds also have four game modes that the players can use. The host player can let others into their worlds in Survival mode, Creative mode, Adventure Mode, or Spectator Mode. The first two we have already talked about. Adventure mode restricts the non-host players so they can adventure around the world and interact with it, but they cannot change anything. Spectator mode gives the special power to follow other players, fly around anywhere even through walls and the ground. The spectator is not seen by the other players though, and cannot participate in any of the game play. They cannot interact with the world at all.

Minecraft Realms:

Minecraft Realms is a Mojang hosted cloud Minecraft server just for you. What this means is that it is a multiplayer server that you can purchase for your children to play on. You get an internet accessible Minecraft server that is under your control. The people that can play on the server is controlled by you. Other players need an invitation or permission to play on your Realm. This is a good way to play with out of town cousins or that friend that just changed schools and moved away.

The Realm that you get can be customized in creative mode if you like or just start playing in the world you get. This is a safe way to play with friends and control who is on the server with your child.


Multiplayer is where the safety and control of Minecraft starts to get weak. With Multiplayer mode you can type in a server address and play with the other people that are on that server. These servers can be anywhere in the world. They are connected via the internet so many people can play at once.

How would someone find out a server address? Well, many people advertise them, you can search for Minecraft servers and get a list and description of the type of world that is being hosted. Many kids also share with their friends. Listen as they walk to school and you will probably hear about a cool server someone saw on youtube. Then the kids go home and try it out for themselves. This would be the wild west of Minecraft and often anything goes. You can usually see in the server search description what kind of play is offered on the server. Some are adventure games, some battle games, and some can be creative only. It can take some extra work to make sure that you want your children playing on the internet.

All Internet servers are not completely violent or out of control, but they usually are open to all comers. You will have to decide, if the server is okay to play on, do you also want your kids open to be exposed to anyone that may be playing there as well. Minecraft in-game chat is very useful to communicate with other players. Some servers have protections installed that will prevent obscenity in the chat, but as I am sure you are aware, your email has that kind of protection too. People get creative with spelling and not everything can be caught. Those type of protections also do not protect against normal language that is inappropriate for children. Fortunately, you can turn off the chat feature if you want. This is done in the game options and will effect all worlds that are played.

If you want complete control it is possible for you to create your own server at your house and offer it up to the internet. This way you can either only allow invited players onto the server, or you can ban certain players if they violate your server rules. This can be a complex option though, and Realms is a better, though costlier, choice.

Steve's recommendations for safer Minecraft:

  • Restrict your children so they don't play multi-player games, single player minecraft can be great fun for the youngest player.
  • When playing multi-player restrict them to LAN worlds. These are worlds that don't leave your personal network, so the friends need to be at your house or school.
  • Host your own private minecraft server or purchase a Realm. Whether on a computer at your house or at a hosted server company, you can create a whitelisted server (invitation only). This is a private server where only players that are placed in the server whitelist can connect. You get to control who your kids play with.
  • When playing on multi-player servers hosted on the internet, turn the chat feature off. This will allow only server commands to be shown.





How do we get a Minecraft account?

If you do not yet have a Minecraft PC game account you can buy it at http://minecraft.net

Get Minecraft Button

‚ÄčThis button takes you to the page to create a Mojang account, Mojang makes Minecraft and other games.


‚ÄčThe Mojang account is what is used to sign in to Minecraft the game as well, so the students will need to know the email address used and the password. (Some older accounts only need the minecraft character name instead of the email).

Purchasing the game or a gift

This page allows you to enter your credit card information to either pay for a minecraft PC account or purchase a gift code to give to someone. The box for the Minecraft name is where you put in the name you would like in Minecraft. This name appears above your head in multi-player worlds. From here you could also redeem a gift code if someone gave you Minecraft as a gift or if you purchased a Minecraft gift card from a brick and mortar store. With a gift card you don't need any creditcard information.


After you hit PURCHASE or REDEEM, you are taken to the Minecraft download sight. Note: it is possible to download Minecraft before purchasing, but it will only work in demo mode for a limited number of hours. Demo mode can be fun for exploring the game, but it is limited to playing alone on the computer you installed it on.


If you have already purchased Minecraft:

If you have already purchased Minecraft of some type you can log in to your Mojang account and see the different versions you may have purchased. Minecraft does make several version. The iPad and Android mobile edition (Minecraft PE), a game console edition for Playstation and Xbox, and a PC version (for MAC and Windows and Linux). Each of these different versions can't play with other versions because they run on different platforms.

The class will be playing on a multi-player server so each student will need a unique game account. The servers don't allow an account to login more than once because it then can't keep track of what they are doing in the game.

This link helps to explain the different types of minecraft accounts. Migrated, mojang accounts, and demo accounts.






Is Minecraft the same as Minecraft?

Minecraft, as you well know, is a popular game.  When my family first downloaded the game Mojang had sold just over 6,000,000 for the PC/Mac.  As I write this, that number is now almost 17,000,000 for the PC/Mac.  The people at Mojang have been busy too.  Beside updating the PC game they have also branched out to cover two other popular gaming devices; mobile and the game console.


These are the 3 basic versions of Minecraft that you can buy;  The PC version, the mobile game, and the console game.  Each of these platforms can now be used to play Minecraft, but I doubt they will ever be able to Minecraft together.  The main reason is that each platform hsa been developed specifically for that platform and each platform was started at a different time.  Because they were started at different times, and because each platform has different performance issues to deal with, they each have different features available.  In fact, the mobile version just recently got unlimited world size.  When I first bought my mobile version I was really disappointed in the small size of the world.  I could see from one end of the world to the other, after that the ground dropped of into nothing.

The PC version of Minecraft:

 The PC version of Minecraft will run on Windows, Linux and Mac computers.  This is the most expensive version at $26.95 US.  This version of the game was the first and was written using the Java programming language.  This allows the one set of code to run on a computer with any of the operating systems listed above.  That is cool!  Crossplatform gaming.  Because the PC version was written in Java, you have to have the free Java Stand Edition installed on your PC as well.  You can get Java at www.java.com I have installed Minecraft on Windows, Linux and Mac.  I must say that Windows and Mac are the easiest.

The Mobile version of Minecreaft:

The mobile version runs on iOS and Android devices.  This is the cheapest version at $6.99 US.  Since iOS does not run Java the mobile version of the game was developed using something else.  Also since mobile devices have less resources available to the game, like memory and powerful processors, the game has been limited in it's features.  Only recently has lava and other resource intense features been added.

The Console version of Minecraft:

The console version will run on certain versions of Playstation and Xbox.  You can get the console version for $19.99 US. Since these game consoles also don't run Java the game need to be programmed with a different language.  This makes the console version less feature rich and harder to customize.

With all of these different versions how does one know what to buy?  It really depends on where you will play.  My family doesn't have an Xbox or Playstation, but I'm sure if we did, we would have Minecraft on it.  We have Minecraft on every other platform we own. If you like playing on the go the mobile version is for you.  With this version you can even play together with friends on the same WiFi network.  But only if they too have the mobile version.  The PC version allows you to play alone, just like all the others, as well as on a LAN world hosted on your home network, or on a server hosted over the internet.  The console version I honestly do not know much about.  Like I said, we don't have that version. But with an internet connected console game, you can connect to other servers and play with others.



One of my favorite crafting menus


I can't remember exactly where I got this, but the link goes to the updated version on Imgur. This one is pretty old and doesn't have many of the newer items on it.  If you don't think Minecraft makes you think just imagine that each of these recipes and drops can probably be recited by your Minecraft player with no problem.



10 reasons a parent can love minecraft


My family has been playing Minecraft for quite a while now.  I know that there are lots of variations on the game, some of them are better than others.  Personally, I like the game because it can be a positive and worthwhile experience for kids of all ages.  It is creative, it has a social aspect, and it can teach kids many things.  But, there are also many parents that don't know much about the game and many more that are having problems.


Here is a list of my top ten reasons to love Minecraft:

1.   Minecraft is not expensive.

Depending on the currency exchange the computer version is about $30.  Even less for the pocket edition and other versions.  Comparing that to the console game my kids wanted a couple of years ago for Christmas isn't even fair.  A console game can cost $40 and now you can add on special characters at $15 each and every year there are new versions with new characters and they don't work with the old ones...  I think you get my point. 

Updates and new versions to Minecraft are automatically loaded when you run the game and are free.  The Mojang philosophy about Mods (modifications to the game play) and texture packs to change the look of the game is outstanding.  There is no limit to the things you can do, and that takes us to number two.

2.  Minecraft is customizable

This is a very flexible game.  Because of all the various settings, and the fact that you can get a huge amount of user-created mods, the game play is suited to many different types of players.  You can turn monsters and PVP (player vs player) off if you don't want killing.  You can create challenges and custom worlds.  Players can be in creative mode where every block is at their disposal, or survival mode where they have to find and collect the resources they need.  Players can discover and explore new worlds anytime they want, or stick to one and build the vision of what they think a world should be.  Minecraft can grow with the players skill level as well.  First just building and crafting, and then creating potions or electronic creations that perform tasks with the push of a button.  With user-created mods there are even servers that mimic other games like Pokemon or Grand Theft Auto.  I think just about every level of player can find something entertaining to do with minecraft.

3.  Minecraft rewards and inspires creativity

In one of our classes I had set time aside to allow the kids to build on a creative server.  I had in mind that we would work on an imitation real world village and talk about community.  The kids' idea of creative building blew my mind.  We had huge statues, giant sculptures in the sky, elaborate punch button doors and cannons that shot TNT. Whether they are exploring and discovering new worlds, or designing and creating a world that they control, the possibilities are virtually limitless. A small child can build or create the most amazing things from the tools in the game, and when they progress further they can start programming the game to do what they want.

4.  Minecraft makes you use your brain

I'm sure you have seen a child mindlessly working a video game, trying to rack up points, shoot the enemy and avoid being destroyed.  After a while it becomes like watching television for them.  Their minds shut down and there's nothing really to think about, just watch and move the character.  Minecraft is immersive.  Minecraft is interactive.  In Minecraft your child will always be planning what they need to collect to make what they want, remembering their wayfinding clues so they don't get lost in the world or a cave.  This game has constant challenges that require you to think really hard at times.  There are mini-games on servers that have been created that require nothing more running around killing or shooting everything in sight.  Personally, I redirect my kids when they get involved with that kind of play because that is not what Minecraft is about.  It is and should be so much more, so I suggest creating something or learning how to use redstone circuits instead.  It is a constant battle, but well worth it, and usually pretty easy to win.

5.  Minecraft is great for learning

Minecraft is a game, but it wasn't long before schools and universities started seeing it potential and exploring the possibilities of using Minecraft in an educational setting.  A popular Mod called Minecraftedu has been developed to help teachers use it in the classroom to teach math, history, geography.  In fact, having a virtual test world to explore concepts like logic, genetics, problem solving, social skills, goal planning, reading, and problem solving is a teachers dream.

6.  Minecraft is inclusive regardless of skill

Everybody gravitates to certain things they like to do, or things that they do best.  Minecraft can be just about anything a player can imagine.  All you have to do is search Minecraft ____________ and you can see examples of just about anything including working printers.  Because Minecraft is a networked game it is possible for players to create communities around their interests and play in a world together or collaborate with someone half a world away.  The whole family can play together, and regardless of skill or interests they can join in adventures and exploring new worlds together.  I have really enjoyed the time I have been able to share with my kids while playing.  I have seen them become more brave, more creative and we always have something to talk about.

7.  Minecraft can foster teamwork and community

I talked about the collaboration above, but you really get to see teamwork happen when one player is being attacked by too many monsters.  Other players quickly come to their aid, and they begin to understand that survival is easier when you work together.  I have also seen players come together when someone is acting too aggressively or is acting selfishly or stealing from others.  Often, teams or factions are formed because they realize there is safety in numbers.

8.  Minecraft can develop computer literacy

Aside from installing the game and running it, Minecraft also helps kids to develop an understanding of how computers work.  When they see a great Mod that they want to install it often involves some pretty involved work.  They get to dig deep into the working of their computer to find the files they need to change.  If they take an interest in making the game perform better on their computer they will develop an understanding of all that is involved in making it run.  From graphics cards and hard drive speed to RAM and networking there is a lot that can be done to enhance performance.  Then there is also the computer programming that they may want to do so they can create their own Mod in Java.  If they want to play with friends and host their own server they will need to mess with the firewall and more networking.  There is also in-game programming with command blocks.  Command blocks can monitor the game, make things happen on triggers, and do many special things if a button or lever is used.  There is so much that can be involved that I don't doubt that Harvard's CS50 computer science class will be using Minecraft soon.

9.  Minecraft encourages and rewards studying and planning

Have you ever seen your kids so focused on anything before?  Minecraft can hold your focus because there is so much going on at once.  I order to survive you need to pay attention and successfully track the time in-game, Know where monsters are, how much food you have or need to eat, remember where you are and how to get home.  Also take a look at the crafting image in another post I made, there is quite a bit to remember so you can successfully obtain the items you want. When they start building and planning a new castle or spaceship it is easy to see how they can spend so much time playing the game.

10.  Minecraft is as safe as you want it to be

As I a have said before, Minecraft is customizable to just about every level of play you might want.  At it's most basic level in single player mode it is a very safe game for kids to play.  You can turn off violence completely if you want, but if you don't it is not graphic. There are no guns and blood, evil doers to bring to justice, sex or bad language.  If you try survival there will be some combat and you do need to butcher your own food, but again this can be avoided by controlling the game settings.  Probably the most unsafe aspect, playing on internet connected multiplayer sites, can even be mitigated by turning off chat if you need. 

This is the list of the ten reason to love Minecraft as a parent.  There are many good things about the game and if you take some time to set it up the way you want your children to experience it, you can be satisfied that both you and your children can have a good time.



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