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The Minecraft Glossary for Parents

Don't know your mods from your mobs? Impress your kids with your newfound Minecraft vocabulary.

Topics: Gaming Learning

Minecraft is an incredibly popular game and seems to attract new fans on a daily basis. But for parents who haven't joined the Minecraft movement, the words kids use to describe their play sessions can seem like an alien language. For instance, your kid may say something like, "That mod gave sweet amounts of redstone in the Nether, but the mobs there were so aggressive I really wish I only had to deal with Creepers." Yikes!

It's time to learn some lingo. Here's a glossary of some of the most common terms from Minecraft. It'll help you learn the basics of the game and give you a quick entry into the world of mining, brewing, and crafting.

Biome. Biomes are regions in the Minecraft world, such as jungles, forests, and deserts. They have their own climatic and environmental features, including rain cycles, variations in grass or plant life, and even geographical structures, such as rivers and mountains.

Creative/survival. Creative and survival are two of the main game modes of Minecraft. The creative mode lets players build anything they want from an endless supply of blocks and renders them invincible from would-be enemies. The survival mode, by contrast, is the standard game mode wherein players have to collect resources, fight mobs, and explore -- all with the goal of staying alive.

Creeper. Arguably one of the most recognizable (and hated) monsters in Minecraft, Creepers are an aggressive mob that try their best to sneak up on a player before exploding. The resulting blast does significant damage to virtually everything and can be deadly when your attention is focused on other enemies.

Enderman. The Enderman is one of the weirder mobs in Minecraft; they're tall, thin creatures that enter the game in pairs and typically pick up and place blocks at random. They can be a hazard to structures built by the player because they dismantle your shelters. Traditionally neutral, the Enderman don't attack unless they're attacked or unless you provoke them by staring at them, at which point they'll give you the business and then teleport away until they're killed or neutralized.

Mob. A mob is virtually any living creature in the game. Some mobs are passive, such as horses and chickens, whereas others can be very hostile, such as Creepers.

Mod. Mod is short for "modification" and is essentially anything that changes the content of the game. It can refer to anything from adding new materials to adjusting design elements in creative mode to adding difficulty levels. Mods are user-created content that isn't contained within the initial install and has to be downloaded to be added to the game. These can be installed one at a time or in a bundle, but be warned: Modifying the game can cause it to stop working.

Mojang. The creators and developers of Minecraft, Mojang was founded by Markkus Persson, Jakob Porser, and Carl Manneh. The company was recently acquired by Microsoft for $2.5 billion.

Nether. The Nether is an alternate dimension of the Minecraft world, resembling a hellish landscape, and it's only accessible via a player-built entry called a portal. The Nether has plenty of environmental hazards, such as lava and flames, as well as unique mobs. Many standard materials and items are affected by the Nether and work completely differently than in the standard world (the "Overworld"), but the Nether also offers rare materials.

Pickaxe. Pickaxes are one of the standard Minecraft tools that are used to mine bricks for important materials. These tools are crafted by the player and can be further enhanced with separate characteristics to improve their functionality.

Redstone. Redstone is one of the raw materials that can be found in the world of Minecraft and is one of the most versatile materials in the game. It can be used to brew potions or craft components. However, its most important feature is its ability to power devices such as doors, pistons, lights, and other machines.

Sandbox. Sandbox is a type of video game with an "open world" design wherein players have the option to modify the game world as well as explore without restrictions or limitations. In many ways, a true sandbox game gives players the same tools as a designer of the game, allowing them to change or adjust the gameplay to suit their needs. Minecraft is considered a sandbox game.

Server. A Minecraft server lets players engage in multiplayer games online. No two servers are alike, and they're typically configured into specific game types. These can range from team-based or solo-player-versus-solo-player combat to capture-the-flag and last-player-standing matches.

Skin. A skin is any texture placed on an avatar or mob that allows players to further customize the game. Skins don't add any advantages or disadvantages, but they offer visual flair to the game -- and can be almost anything you can think of. These have ranged from Avengers characters to Santa Claus and more.

Steve. The basic male default skin in the game, Steve is the name of the playable character that gamers control. His basic appearance is a man with a light blue shirt, blue jeans, gray shoes, and dark hair.

Jeff Haynes
As Common Sense's senior editor of video games and websites, Jeff Haynes spends his time doing things like blasting aliens, winning sports championships, and creating digital worlds to tell kids and parents about the best gaming and website experiences available. Having covered the gaming and technology industries for more than 15 years, Jeff previously worked at Entertainment Tonight, Game-Over Online, Inside Kung-Fu, MXB and other magazines, as well as IGN and TechBargains. His technology expertise has been quoted by the Wall Street Journal, Yahoo, MSN and many other websites, newspapers, and magazines. When he's not playing games, he fights ninja and pirates (on alternating Thursdays); debates the methods, merits, and madness of shows like Top Gear, Chopped, and MythBusters, tinkers with technology of all shapes and sizes, embraces his inner audiophile, and absorbs horror writing and movies of all kinds when his child is tucked safely in bed at night.