Creepers, mobs, and pickaxes.
No, this isn’t a really late Halloween blog post!
But, these “spooky season” terms did remind me of the fact that, yes, Minecraft was the thing a few years ago. In fact, it’s still a very big thing today, and deserving of some fresh coverage.
How much clout does the game still carry? Minecraft was boasting over 131 millions monthly players as of last October!
But why do we really care?
Because Minecraft isn’t your typical game. There are many reasons why I say that, but the one closest to our hearts is the fact that Minecraft is an excellent educational tool.
So, while there are millions of kids and teens using the game for entertainment, they all have the potential to benefit from its educational properties—one of the most valuable being that it is a gateway to coding via customizability and modding.
You might now be asking, “What is modding?”
Well, that’s why we’re here!
For all of those kids who are still spending their free time playing the ever-popular sandbox game, that’s just as many parents who might be at least a little curious about what it is that makes the game so captivating.
Minecraft words to know
So, we’re going to jump in and look at some Minecraft terminology, defining those aforementioned creepers, mobs, pickaxes, and much more.
Adventure maps in Minecraft are different from the worlds in which kids normally play. Instead of being completely random, adventure maps are designed with a purpose in mind. Insane parkour obstacle courses, crafty logic puzzles, and epic quest adventures are all examples of adventure maps.
Adventure mode is great for building challenges or telling a story because players can't easily destroy blocks to bypass content.
The definition of armor in Minecraft isn’t any different than the typical video game’s definition, and is simply the item category that provides players with damage protection. Armor is generally graphically displayed on the character wearing it, and includes things like chest plates, helmets, boots, and more.
An attribute controls a property of a mob. Modifying attributes allows you to alter or set specific characteristics of mobs. (Wait, what’s a mob? Look below!)
A bed in Minecraft is a place where players sleep and respawn (come back to life). Bed Wars is a popular survival game in which players must protect their bed against adversaries and fight off opponents.
Biomes are regions in a Minecraft world with varying geographical features. They separate every generated world into different environments, like forest, jungle, desert, and ice plains. Each chunk in a Minecraft world has a biome, an environment like a swamp or forest. Biomes determine things like snowfall and the types/amount of vegetation. (Read more Minecraft facts.)
In Minecraft, a build battle is a player competition to create a structure or world in creative mode.
There are only two people in this world—those who visualize Steve when they hear “Minecraft,” and those who visualize creepers. While not a pleasant sight, creepers - aside from Steve - are the most recognizable Minecraft characters. As the name would suggest, creepers sneak up on players and then explode when in close enough proximity.
With the death of mobs and some other entities, drops are the items that appear, and in three different types: normal drops, rare drops, and Experience Orbs. Rare drops only appear when the player kills a mob. Experience Orbs only appear when the player or a tamed Wolf kills the mob.
Enderman is a type of Minecraft mob, characterized by their black shade, tall height, and thin stature. Neutral until provoked - which means simply staring at them - the Enderman will attack.
Foods are consumable items that restore hunger points when eaten. Players have two different food statistics, only one of which is visible: the (visible) hunger level and the (invisible) saturation level.
To “grief” in Minecraft means destroying another player’s creation or preventing them from respawning. It’s equivalent to bullying within the game, and is definitely something to watch for and discuss with your child.
When you attack a monster in Minecraft, code is executed to see if it's been defeated. An if statement allows you to execute code if some condition is met.
Items in the player's inventory and on the ground are stored in a data type called an ItemStack. ItemStacks are used to tell Minecraft what custom crafting recipes players are creating. ItemStacks have two formats: one for a single item or block, and one for multiple items or blocks.
In the vanilla Minecraft game, any living creature is a mob. However, in Minecraft's code, mobs are only considered entities that are hostile to the player and extend the "EntityMob" class. Mobs include: Zombies, creepers, spiders. If such creatures sound a bit spooky, here is how to go about killing mobs in Minecraft.
Minecraft mobs each have a different AI with behaviors and mechanics specific to them. For instance, after being hurt, passive mobs will flee, but hostile mobs will face and chase the player as soon as they come close. As you might have guessed, neutral mobs will remain neutral attacked, at which point they’ll turn hostile and go after whatever hit them.
Modding isn’t unique to Minecraft, but it is a popular aspect of the game. Essentially, it provides a way to customize the game by altering the original code to include new characters, objects, and more.
The point behind modding is to enhance gameplay, and is done via Java, which is the programming language that powers Minecraft. Incidentally, learning to create custom mobs in Minecraft is an excellent motivation to learn to code with Java!
Also not specific to Minecraft, but something thrown around gaming circles to identify new players who might not yet know all of the ropes of the game.
These are humanoid creatures that are - you guessed it - part human and part pig. They explore Minecraft looking to collect gold.
Printing in a programming language refers to putting text into a console. With Minecraft coding, kids might have noticed a bunch of text flying by in IntelliJ's console each time they start their Minecraft mods. This information is produced by printing to the console.
In a puzzle game, the order of new pieces appearing on the board is determined by random numbers. In a game like Minecraft, the entire world is randomly generated from scratch when a new game is started.
Redstone is a powerful Minecraft resource, albeit a concept tough to grasp for beginners. Basically, redstone bears redstone dust when mined, which is used for redstone circuits, which can be thought of as electricity in the Minecraft world.
A skelly is a skeleton mob character kids might encounter in adventure or survival mode.
Entities spawn naturally (come to life) in Minecraft, and depending on certain variables, they spawn in varying frequencies and pack sizes. Custom entities, however, don't naturally spawn. Using forge creators can add their mobs to the enemies that can naturally spawn in Minecraft.
This is a popular mutli-player game in Minecraft that features spooky spider mobs.
The survival game mode in Minecraft allows players to gather resources, well, to survive. Thus, players traverse with a health bar, and can kill mobs (and are thus subject to being killed by mobs!). Various creatures will come out at night, requiring players to problem-solve in order to endure. This includes strategizing around shelter-building, weaponry, and food collection.
For more on this, look no further than our guide to the game modes of Minecraft.
This stands for survival single player mode in Minecraft in which players must fight off mobs and other adversaries.
Tools are items that the player can use to perform actions, like mining. Certain tools also make actions easier, or make the player able to gather items not obtainable by hand.
A variable stores information about a program while it's running. For example, in Minecraft, the names of the items and blocks are stored in variables.
Vanilla is used to describe Minecraft game play with no mods or customizations.
Time to define your child’s Minecraft future
Will your child continue as a Minecraft player, or will they evolve into a Minecraft game designer?
And how about you, parent? iD Tech is hosting interactive workshops just for parents to help kids go from consuming games to creating them as they build 21st century tech skills; check out a recap of our first Minecraft 101 Question & Answer workshop.