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As a lot of parents know, Minecraft is one of the hottest on-line video games for tweens and teens. From the Minecraft Wiki comes this description : “Minecraft focuses on allowing the player to explore, interact with, and modify a dynamically-generated map made of one-cubic-meter-sized blocks. In addition to blocks, the environment features plants, mobs, and items. Some activities in the game include mining for ore, fighting hostile mobs, and crafting new blocks and tools by gathering various resources found in the game. The game's open-ended model allows players to create structures, creations and artwork on various multiplayer servers or their own single player maps.” As curious parents, we are interested in what our children are doing and ask questions; however, what are they talking about? Spawning? Killing animals for food? What is an Enderman anyway? Hopefully, this will help you engage your children in conversation and know exactly what they are saying.
First there is the term spawning and it is exactly what you think it is. The reference to spawning is the arrival of your child’s character in the world they have selected. Minecraft has several play modes in which your child can play alone or in multi-player. When their character arrives, they are “spawned” into that specific world. It can be a bad thing too if they are spawned in the middle of a battle or near the villains.
As with any game there are villains in Minecraft as well as people to be saved. There are villagers in almost every town and city who are being attacked or chased by the villains. Our villains are skeletons, they have swords to fight back with; zombies, they can be friend or foe and sometimes have weapons; spiders, these are giant versions and can be fought off; and endermen, who may or may not attack you depending on their mood. All of the villains can be defeated or destroyed depending on the weapons your character has.
The weapons can be outrageously cool or dependably boring. You need to “mine” different materials in Minecraft in order to find flint, steel, iron, gold, diamonds, emeralds and other gems. These items can be crafted into various weapons including swords and bows and arrows. These weapons can be used to defeat “mobs” which is short for “mobile” and describes the animals and other creatures. The animals that roam the playscape include cows, pigs and sheep that can be killed for their meat and by-products to be used in crafting. Crafting tables are necessary in Minecraft in order to build anything.
Finally, there are the upgrades, skins and various “mods” that are available in Minecraft. A mod is a modification or third party program that can be installed in the programming of the game to change anything from the appearance of the character, add different weapons, armor or stories. Basically, if you’re a parent and your child wants one of these “mods” you do not have to be a computer genius. Thank heavens for that small favor as most, if not all of the mods, have installation instructions that you can follow easily.
There are two words of warning, however, when it comes to Minecraft. Unfortunately, there is no language filter on the multiplayer settings, so if another player is cursing there is no way to block that from your child’s view. Also, when it comes to defeating another player, animal or villain, there is some portrayal of blood or goo depending on the creature. You might consider talking to your child about these two items to make sure they are capable of handling it.
Minecraft, overall, is a fun game for tweens and teens. As parents it’s important that we know how to communicate with our child about the game and help them understand what is going on within the game. It’s not always easy to know the difference between a zombie and an enderman, however, having a vague understanding of the game can create a bridge of communication and a bond between you and your child.