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I'm NOT an expert, but we just got this for the kids for Christmas, so I know a little.  YES, you have to buy them each their own, if they're playing on their own laptop and/or at the same time.  (My kids each have a laptop, so we had to buy it twice.)  They don't need to play online, but they like to - joining other people's worlds.  I don't especially care for that - who knows who they're joining with! - but apparently "we" have decided we're okay with it...

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If you have two computers on the same "local" network (aka they are both connected to the same wi fi in the house), you can open it up to just those two players playing together. That gives you some of the fun of playing with someone without connecting to a public server. We have friends who host a private server - yes, you have to be connected to the Internet to use it but it is invite-only so no worries about chatting with strangers. It is all friends this family we are friends with.

 

If you only own one computer and will not have two people playing at the same time, you can buy one license only if the two players are willing to be nice about how their share their stuff in the game. This is how we started out (smaller investment before we were sure they loved to play). The kids just agreed to only play in their own worlds unless invited to by a sibling, and to not use siblings' stuff. But it was easier once we had multiple computers to install it on to just have multiple licenses instead.

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Also, there are some programs for kids that have their own servers that are moderated and monitored by adults. Athena's Academy, for example, has one for kids doing their online classes, and some of the classes, especially things like the SOTW ones, have extensions which can be done on Minecraft (or as other creative projects).

 

 

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A minecraft server is an online group you can join to play minecraft. Like a minecraft playdate and thus it is better if it is monitored, or kids only.

 

I have no idea how to join them from my son's ps3. He's been playing by himself for almost a year and apparently it isn't as exciting on his own. I'm trying (not too hard lol) to figure out how to connect him to one.

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My older 4 kids each have their own account. They join each other's worlds over our LAN, and we also run a homeworld that we all play on together. (They have a lot more mods in their own worlds.) None of them play on external servers, so language, etc. isn't an issue.

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Could I ask for more information if there's a parent really in the know? I have debated exposing my almost 7 year old to it. It would be a hit - no doubt - but I am debating its value compared to the addiction potential. (He has two parents who are former "gamers" - although not particularly talented). I have played a lot of RPGs, a little MMO, and some real time strategy with resources a la Starcraft. This is all a distant memory now that we're parents.

 

I understand there is a lot of crafting and building, and this seems to be the justification for it having educational potential. But also I understand there is resource limitation. So do the kids have to grind for materials, preventing them from being as creative immediately? Or does resource availability depend on the type of server you are on? (i.e. if you are on a private LAN or world, do you have unlimited resources and the crafting chain is much easier, as opposed to a competitive environment?) Also, could someone explain the fighting aspect. (There is one, isn't there?) Is it cooperative or competitive with other players - or does it depend on what you want to do? Can other players kill your character? What are the ramifications of that?Are there a lot of creatures that attack you in the native environment, or not? Does your character grow or level or get stronger in any way, such that older characters have an advantage other than resource collection? Do you have the same character and inventory in every world you play in, or is it completely separate by world? What makes it so great/popular?

 

If there is a guide for old laypeople somewhere, I'd love to read it. Perhaps intentionally, I've never researched it, but I'm reaching the point where I feel I ought to know more, especially as I see more and more education resources attached to it.

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I play minecraft along with my kids, so I think I am in the know enough to answer your questions. I don't know of any specific guides, but I am guessing there are some out there since it is such a popular game!

 

I understand there is a lot of crafting and building, and this seems to be the justification for it having educational potential. But also I understand there is resource limitation. So do the kids have to grind for materials, preventing them from being as creative immediately? Or does resource availability depend on the type of server you are on? (i.e. if you are on a private LAN or world, do you have unlimited resources and the crafting chain is much easier, as opposed to a competitive environment?)

 

There are two types of worlds - survival and creative.  This is true of both "local" words you host/store on your own computer and public or private servers you connect to via the internet.  Creative worlds have unlimited resources for everyone.  Survival worlds have limited resources and you have to mine or search for things you want.  If you are playing a local world you create on your computer and don't open it up to anyone, then I guess yes, it is easier to find your resources in survival.  I have never played survival on a public server, so I don't know how much the scarcity of resources comes into play (it might vary depending on whether it was a really large popular server, or just a small server with a few people on it).   On a world you host yourself, you could actually switch the mode back and forth between creative and survival, but you of course would not be able to do that on a public server.

 

 

Also, could someone explain the fighting aspect. (There is one, isn't there?) Is it cooperative or competitive with other players - or does it depend on what you want to do? Can other players kill your character? What are the ramifications of that?Are there a lot of creatures that attack you in the native environment, or not? Does your character grow or level or get stronger in any way, such that older characters have an advantage other than resource collection? Do you have the same character and inventory in every world you play in, or is it completely separate by world?

 

In the standard minecraft game (not talking "mini games" on servers, which I will explain in a minute), you can't really die in creative and there is no fighting (unless you just want to fight a monster for fun who won't hurt you back).   In survival, there are really two options.  You can play peaceful survival, where there are no "hostile mobs" at all.  This is what I like.  I am not sure this is very common on public servers, because there are certain things you can't do in the game if you can't kill the mobs to get their loot.  I don't care about those things, so I am liking peaceful survival so that I don't have to fight anything.

 

Regular survival worlds that are not peaceful can have a varying number of mobs depending on if the world or server is set to easy, regular or hard.   In regular survival there are lots of mobs/monsters that attack you.   In regular survival minecraft (not mini games), players generally do not kill other players on purpose.  It may happen accidentally.  I think most servers consider it griefing to kill other players purposefully and it is not allowed?  (Like I said, I don't play survival on public servers).  If you do die because of either a hostile mob, falling in lava, or getting killed by another player you respawn at the last bed you slept in.  If you die a long way from your bed, you will probably lose your stuff you were carrying around.

 

Your character itself doesn't grow or get stronger per se, but the longer you play you will be able to get more and better stuff in each world-- when you play for a while you will find enough diamond to have diamond armor, for example.  But you can just as easily lose that stuff too if you die too far from your bed or spawn point.  Your character looks the same every where you go (all the worlds/servers you play in) unless you change the skin.  The skin doesn't impact game play -- it is cosmetic and can be changed as much or as little as you want.  You start over in every new world with nothing...so if you have an awesome world where you have diamond armor...if you go to a new server or create a new world, you start over again with zilch. So, no inventory doesn't carry over.

 

In regular minecraft (not mini games), things are more cooperative than not in the sense that everybody is fighting the hostile mobs and nobody is really trying to kill each other usually.  But not generally cooperative in the sense that if I have awesome diamonds or emeralds or other special blocks, I am not just going to give them to anybody who asks for them.  In a creative world, people absolutely collaborate to build things, and players who want to work on something together in survival might do that.

 

The place where you may have intentional fighting against other players are mini games on public servers.  I just started letting my kids play on a server that has "mini games" -- instead of the usual premise of minecraft, it is playing on a special server with different areas for everything from a building contest to a player vs. player sword fighting competition.  But you have to seek those opportunities out -- they aren't really the standard fare.  I guess if you have two kids playing in a private world on your own computers open to LAN they might choose to have a player vs. player battle for fun (my boys do this at times), but they would probably create a new world just to do that. 

 

 

What makes it so great/popular?

 

I think it is so popular because it is so open ended.  You can explore anywhere! You can build an unlimited number of things in creative.  You can fight or not fight.  You can play alone or with other people.  You can get mods that add crazy stuff.  You can play those mini games on servers. You can have the challenge of looking for rare things.  You can try and figure out how to build cool stuff even with limited resources in survival.  If one world seems lame or you get bored of it, you can start another world, and still come back to that first world later.   I always hated how "scripted" most video games were when I was growing up. I wanted to go explore Super Mario World myself and not follow a path.  This is that game for me that I always dreamed of.  :-)   But other people like different things about it.   While some of my friends are unwinding playing facebook games or watching netfilx...some nights I am unwinding mining away in minecraft and looking for new interesting tunnels near my base and trying to build a huge castle with blocks I mined.  I find it to be very relaxing.  :-)

 

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We downloaded this on the iPad and the kids created their own worlds within the same game...or I guess that's what they did?   Until reading this, I didn't even know it should be any different!  LOL  I have played around in it a bit and - now this is just my opinion - I really don't see any great learning potential.  The kids enjoy building, and they prefer creative mode.  It's kind of neat the worlds you can create and the things you can make, but I think they gain more from using lego and other types of building toys and tools.    

 

We limit their time on it.  I have found after playing it myself that the motion of the "camera" angles can be really hard on the eyes. (I am sure this is different for everyone.)  I would much rather have them creating and building with lego, then glued to the iPad, honestly.  I guess I am old-school, but I just don't think it's all that and a bag of chips. LOL

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We downloaded this on the iPad and the kids created their own worlds within the same game...or I guess that's what they did?   Until reading this, I didn't even know it should be any different!  LOL  I have played around in it a bit and - now this is just my opinion - I really don't see any great learning potential.  The kids enjoy building, and they prefer creative mode.  It's kind of neat the worlds you can create and the things you can make, but I think they gain more from using lego and other types of building toys and tools.    

 

We limit their time on it.  I have found after playing it myself that the motion of the "camera" angles can be really hard on the eyes. (I am sure this is different for everyone.)  I would much rather have them creating and building with lego, then glued to the iPad, honestly.  I guess I am old-school, but I just don't think it's all that and a bag of chips. LOL

 

Pocket edition (which is what you've got on iPads, phones, etc) is also not the same as the desktop version and they aren't compatible for playing together.  You're not going to connect to public servers on pocket edition.  Pocket edition has almost all of the same features now as desktop, but for a long time pocket edition was much simpler with fewer features.

 

I totally agree that is is not all that "educational"  without really going out of your way to make it that way. My kids get about 45-60 minutes of fun or free choice screen time most days, and they have to pick between Netflix, watching youtube shows, playing Minecraft, playing Wii games, iPad games, etc.  I do like Minecraft better than a lot of other screen time options for my kids because it not passive and does require thought and creativity.  Much more so than watching shows on Netflix or playing endless rounds of more "mindless" video games like Temple Run or Super Smash Brothers. 

 

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Pocket edition (which is what you've got on iPads, phones, etc) is also not the same as the desktop version and they aren't compatible for playing together.  You're not going to connect to public servers on pocket edition.  Pocket edition has almost all of the same features now as desktop, but for a long time pocket edition was much simpler with fewer features.

 

I totally agree that is is not all that "educational"  without really going out of your way to make it that way. My kids get about 45-60 minutes of fun or free choice screen time most days, and they have to pick between Netflix, watching youtube shows, playing Minecraft, playing Wii games, iPad games, etc.  I do like Minecraft better than a lot of other screen time options for my kids because it not passive and does require thought and creativity.  Much more so than watching shows on Netflix or playing endless rounds of more "mindless" video games like Temple Run or Super Smash Brothers. 

 

 

Didn't know this either -- luckily neither do my kids! lol  

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kirstenhill, thank you so much for your explanations. They were really very informative. I don't know if we'll take the plunge any time soon, but I feel a little less "out of the know." Your comments will give me a nice base of information to answer my other questions online, too. I have a better perspective in evaluating the educational descriptions some moms have shared with me of what their kids are doing. Again, thanks for taking the time to share your knowledge.

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