Minecraft

Common Sense Media says

Sandbox-style game with open online play fosters creativity.

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

Learning(i)

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Action takes place in an open sandbox-style world without story or commentary. The focus is on discovery and creativity as players take control of the elements around them to build structures of their own design. Creativity and imagination are key elements.

Positive role models

The player's avatar never speaks. He simply defends himself from monsters, harvests useful materials from his surrounding environment, and creates buildings and other structures.

Ease of play

There are no instructions. People learn to play via exploration, experimentation, and participation in the larger community. For many this is what makes the game special, but for others it's frustrating. The controls are simple -- WASD keys are used to move, the mouse to look around and interact with world -- but figuring out what to do and how to create useful items takes time and patience. Online guides made by the game’s users, such as those at minecraftwiki.net, could prove helpful. So does the game's achievements list, which provides ideas as to what might be done next. Three levels of difficulty provide suitable challenges for players of all skills.

Violence & scariness

Players can do battle with monsters, but these creatures can also be avoided. Weapons include swords and arrows. There is no blood or gore; graphics are blocky and rudimentary. Monsters disappear in a puff of smoke when defeated, or sometimes catch fire if they’re caught out in the sun. Players can also attack animals to harvest wool, feathers, and meat.

Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
Not applicable
Privacy & safety

Moderate privacy and safety concerns. This game has a thriving online community. Parents should note that open text chat is permitted, and that there are no official rules governing the private servers hosting the game. That means players could encounter offensive content, both in the messages typed by other players and in the freeform structures they build. Potential also exists for players to share personal information, or bully each other.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Minecraft is an open-ended, exploration and creation focused environment. One of the best-selling, independently developed and published video games, Minecraft's official release was in November 2011 following a lengthy beta test phase that attracted millions of players. Players can create items and buildings from scratch using materials they harvest from the world around them. There is no story, but players will encounter aggressive monsters they can fight using swords and bows. Graphics are extremely blocky, and there is no blood or gore, but the creatures can be a bit scary when they moan or appear seemingly out of nowhere. Parents should note that this game has a thriving online community hosted by private, non-moderated servers. This means players could encounter offensive content in the form of profane text messages and suggestively shaped player-created structures, although players don't have to engage in online activity to enjoy the game.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Math

  • estimation
  • geometry
  • shapes

Science

  • geology
  • rocks and minerals

Hobbies

  • building

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • defining problems
  • hypothesis-testing
  • problem solving

Creativity

  • producing new content
  • imagination
  • making new creations

Collaboration

  • cooperation
  • group projects
  • teamwork

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

Kids have free reign over one-of-a-kind worlds bolstered by deep customization options and frequent updates that add new challenges and content.

Learning Approach

Design thinking, problem solving, and resilience will stay with kids, but specific content-knowledge transfer is dependent on how classes use the game.

Support

Lacking a built-in tutorial or manual, Minecraft can be intimidating, but this also promotes peer learning both among kids and the larger online community.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Math

  • estimation
  • geometry
  • shapes

Science

  • geology
  • rocks and minerals

Hobbies

  • building

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • defining problems
  • hypothesis-testing
  • problem solving

Creativity

  • producing new content
  • imagination
  • making new creations

Collaboration

  • cooperation
  • group projects
  • teamwork

Kids can learn creative thinking, geometry, and even a little geology as they build imaginative block structures in this refreshingly open-ended mining and construction game. Given carte blanche to sculpt virtually any creation of their choice in this 3-D space, kids can try out tons of possibilities while working toward simple objectives. An option to work with others on larger building projects can help kids develop collaboration skills. Minecraft empowers players to exercise their imagination and take pride in their digital creations as they learn basic building concepts.

This Learning Rating review was written by Chad Sapieha

Parents say

What's it about?

Minecraft begins with players looking out over a massive, randomly generated world filled with hills, lakes, trees, animals, small non-player character villages, and geological features. There are no objectives, but there is an "End" zone featuring a dragon. At first, the player's only concern is to survive. Monsters are a hazard, which means a shelter -- built with resources harvested from the ground and trees -- is the first order of business. Once a shelter is established, players can focus on experimenting with the resources they gather, using them to build axes, picks, hoes, swords, armor, furnaces, bricks, glass, carts, boats, and countless other items, which can then be leveraged to create everything from forts to lighthouses to ornate palaces. Privately hosted online servers allow access to other worlds, where players can interact with one another.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

It’s easy to see why Minecraft has ballooned in popularity. The experience is wholly compelling for those with a creative itch. Mining resources from the earth and turning them into easily usable materials employed in the construction of nearly anything the player can imagine is enormously satisfying.

However, getting started can prove tricky. There are no instructions. Part of the fun comes from discovery and experimentation, but less patient players could lose interest before they find out how much fun it can be to build a dream house or an intricate maze of mining shafts and tunnels. We recommend consulting online guides designed to help beginners, such as those at minecraftwiki.net. Once you know what you’re doing, you’ll be hard pressed to leave your computer without placing just one more block.

 

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about creativity. How do you like to express yourself outside of video games? Do you think games can help you develop your artistic ability?

  • Families can also discuss common sense safety measures for online games. How can you identify an online predator? What steps should you take if you encounter someone suspicious?

Game details

Platforms:Linux, Mac, Windows, Xbox 360
Price:$21.00
Pricing structure:Paid
Available online?Not available online
Developer:Mojang
Release date:April 11, 2011
Genre:Adventure
ESRB rating:NR for No Descriptors (Linux, Mac, Windows)
E10+ for Fantasy Violence (Xbox 360)

This review of Minecraft was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

Find out more

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

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What parents and kids say

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Written byAnonymous January 8, 2012
AGE
3
QUALITY
 

An amazing game for all ages

I've been playing minecraft for months, since it was only in alpha phase. to start off with, I was incredibly scared of the monsters and never took myself off peaceful. but then I realised that being scared is just part of the game. I still play it to this day. there is no swearing, absolute minimal violence, and the game can be made as easy or as hard as you like depending on how you play
What other families should know
Educational value
Great role models
Adult Written byEAKugler April 22, 2011
AGE
4
QUALITY
 

A box of blocks

I would recommend being careful allowing kids on a public server, but the game can be played solo, and a smart parent with the resources could set up a controlled server, for the child to play online with friends. The game allows perfect gameplay in a nearly limitless world of imagination. It is not unlike giving a child a box of infinite blocks which can be changed and altered to fit the needs and desires of the child. Kids can't choke on it, just be sure to limit how much time they play.
What other families should know
Educational value
Educator and Parent Written bybayareamediamaven May 30, 2012
AGE
11
QUALITY
 
LEARNING

Beware Minecraft is a Mindgame

Minecraft is like virtual legos when used in "creative" mode. Depending on the server, there can be enjoyable collaborating between players. I caution you to be careful if you allow your child to go onto a server for multiplayer. Most of the servers are hosted by strangers or by other unsupervised children and the rules can vary greatly by server. I am less concerned about the "monsters", then about your children's real life peers who may use Minecraft (I call it "Mindgames") to gain social power in the virtual and real world. I encourage you to make sure your child is aware of the unwritten social rules of the particular server before going on it. A child who may be vulnerable to being bullied, can easily be lured or teleported by more socially savvy "friends" into situations where they are manipulated and "killed". This can be upsetting and confusing to some children. It is also extremely addictive, which is why I gave it the 11 and up rating. I would also caution you to be careful of the youtube videos. I found some that were instructions on how to bully other children on Minecraft. I am a little bit concerned that CSM, doesn't seem to be aware of the social and emotional dangers of this game. I encourage CSM to take a deeper look at Minecraft since so many parents rely on your recommendations to decide whether or not to allow their child to play.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Safety and privacy concerns
Parent of a 12 year old Written byNanorama April 27, 2011
AGE
10
QUALITY
 

Addicting for tween boys

My 12 year old son adores this game and needs to have his fingers pried off the keyboard. The game itself contains no bad language, or indeed any language. However there is the possibility of exposure to older players and their uncensored commentaries when your child visits Minecraft posts on YouTube.

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