Minecraft is a game where players build and destroy structures out of cubes on grid patterns in an open 3D world. There are several avenues to explore in this world. There is the survival mode which focuses on the acquisition of resources and management of health and hunger. Alternately there is the creative mode where health and hunger are not a concern and players are given unlimited resources to just create. Highly experienced players may choose to play the hardcore mode. The hardcore mode is similar to survival, but there is no option for regeneration upon death, worlds must be deleted at the end.
Players encounter obstacles to their construction in the form of mobs, animals, villagers and hostile creatures. The game has day and night and the types of characters players encounter depends on what time of day it is. The game allows for multiple players to interact with each other during game play.
Minecraft can run on Windows, OS X (for Macs) and Linux. It can also be played on the Xbox360 and will run on the Playstation 4 in the future. Apps have been released for Andriod OS and iOS. The cost varies depending on platform. For PC and Mac the cost is approximately $27 (19.95 €). The Xbox version is $19.99. The “pocket” version is $6.99.
The game was not developed with the express purpose to be educational. It was developed in order “to create an experience where each individual component felt fun. A game that could be both accessible and emergent.” However, there are many educational components to the game. It demands a certain spatial sense and helps develop one. It’s a good space to practice good social skills and learn to work as part of a team. There is no foul language, no sexual or drug references and no gruesome violence so it is appropriate for kids and adults to play. Minecraft can also help children with their math skills when gathering resources and turning them into different resources. Chad Sapieha at Common Sense Media rates Minecraft 5 stars in learning math and science and honing thinking and reasoning, collaboration and creativity. The game is appropriate for children as young as 6 but older elementary school students all the way up to adults are the target audience. Parents should be involved in gameplay of young children and should be aware of the option to turn off the chat setting when playing in the multiplayer mode on a public server.