There are loads of parents who are baffled, frustrated or tearing their hair out over their kids’ passion for playing in this blocky little world. Which is a shame because the game is full of a lot of really positive things and can be a wonderful experience for kids.
But it’s important to remember that Minecraft was never specifically designed with kids in mind, and so naturally there are aspects to the game that can be a problem for families – including a couple of things that have the potential to cause some major drama.
The good news is that all of these things are fixable and shouldn’t prevent you from letting your kids harness the very real benefits to the game. So let’s take a look at some of these not-so-good things about Minecraft, and how to make it a better experience for the whole family.
One of the confusing aspects of Minecraft for many parents is trying to understand exactly what their kids are doing when they play. And that’s because it’s more like a toy than a game – the player’s experience is mostly driven by their imaginations. So when they tell you about their adventures and creations, it’s like when they describe role-playing with friends or a second-hand conversation or even a dream. You won’t always follow along with the story. And that can make it hard to figure out exactly what this game is all about.
Another thing that makes it hard to grasp what’s going on is that every player is having a different experience. That’s the way that Minecraft is designed. When a new game is started it creates a new world, and you can have as many of these worlds as you want. Each time you play you can choose a different one to roam around in, and the things that you see and do (or that happen to you there) won’t be the same each time.
You can also customize the world using a bunch of different options, as well as unofficial modifications to the way the game looks and acts. So there is no real universal experience called ‘playing Minecraft’… every player is having a different experience of the game. And that makes it really hard to get a straight answer when you Google something like “what the hell is Minecraft”.
Learning about these different options, or even just knowing that they exist, can help you feel a bit less confused about what Minecraft is all about.
Playing Minecraft with other people can be a lot of fun, but it’s important to understand that connecting to a public server means playing with strangers. This is no different than taking your kids to the playground – you wouldn’t leave them there alone to play and talk with other kids and adults without your supervision. While most of the players on multiplayer servers are just there to have a good time, some will knock down your kids constructions, try to kill their player in the game or use bad language in the chat feature. Some players might also wear skins that can be disturbing or inappropriate.
Multiplayer games can also be very fast paced with a lot of chatter going on, and some people may cheat or not follow the rules. The server may use a different set-up than your kids are used to when they play in single player mode, and not having control over that can be frustrating for some. So venturing into the world of multiplayer servers needs to be tackled very, very carefully.
inecraft is a pretty easy game to move around in, but as play progresses kids are going to want to do more and more with the knowledge that they’re acquiring. Some of this will require complex executive functions like memory and planning, and some pretty agile fine motor skills. Some kids might really struggle with this, which can make their time in the game frustrating.
Minecraft is a game with no real end. The challenges keep presenting, and the further you go the more you want to do and the more challenges result. Kids can become totally absorbed in the work that they’re doing in the game, and lose all track of time in the real world. Finding a moment to eat, do chores and homework and even use the toilet can be difficult for kids to do when they’re caught up in the game, especially younger ones who haven’t yet learned how to manage their own time.