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.