That was the question that arose at my place last weekend. My son, soon to be 7, was introduced to Minecraft by a friend’s kid, a 13-year-old boy. I knew that the game was about breaking and placing blocks and that it’s remarkably popular among kids and youngsters.
It didn’t take more than 15 minutes before my son was totally fascinated by the creative world of blocks. I asked the other boy’s mom if she was more familiar with the Minecraft. “Oh yes, it’s a great game. My son played it constantly when he was younger”, she said. Obviously I was happy to hear that, but out of professional interest I wanted to dig a bit deeper.
It turned out that Minecraft is a lot more than blocks. We’re talking about an extremely versatile product which is tricky to get a grasp of in a short time. After some further toil, I came into conclusion that my son definitely can play Minecraft – with the right settings and parental supervision.
Creative or Survival?
The game has two different playing modes to choose from: Creative and Survival. In Creative you won’t die and you have an endless amount of blocks to use. According to Minecraft’s homepage, Creative is a peaceful world where you don’t see enemies. However, you can decide to create yourself for instance skeletons and zombies that try to attack.
Needless to say, the Survival mode lies at the other end of the tunnel. There are gangs of monsters that want to break, explode or eat your bones and you need to protect yourself from the creatures that come out at night.
Decision: My kid should start with Creative.
Alone or with others?
You can play both Creative and Survival mode either alone or with others. When playing with others, you can communicate in chat.
To play with others, you need to connect to a global online server or play on a local network. Whether a global server and its chat are suitable for children depends on the server’s policies. Some may include bad language and mature content whilst there also are plenty of kid-friendly servers that aim to be free from those.
On a local server, you can play with people in the same house, for instance friends or family.
Decision: My kid should not join global servers.
No lazy parenting here
The bottom line is I found out a suitable Minecraft solution for our family. But will my son be able to change the settings himself and then be exposed to bad stuff? Probably. Therefore I need to keep an eye on him when he’s playing – even though I’d rather be lazy and be checking my Facebook in the meantime.
It’s clear that Minecraft is not taylormade for young kids. The company Mojang has recently started requiring a parental consent for users below 13. However, the game can be suitable even for young children with the right settings and involved parents.
//Changed the 13th of April: Creative mode is not as peaceful as written previously since the player can decide to create for instance skeletons and zombies that try to attack. Therefore, the nature of the game can change from creative building to violent fighting.