Minecraft for beginners

Sharing Minecraft with my daughter

Minecraft seemed to be one of those things I should know more about but didn’t. What I did know is that it inspires a passionate following, is set in a blocky virtual world where you build structures, was deemed worthy of a $2.5 billion purchase by Microsoft, and that opinion from parents is divided as you whether it’s something you should introduce to your kids or not. Pro: Incredible platform for creativity; Con – unhealthily addictive, to point of crowding out all other activities (including homework).

As someone who has grown up with gaming, I am all for games that encourage users/players to explore and be creative. I was also optimistic that the risk of ‘addiction’ could be easily managed (other parents warned me Frozen was an inescapable gateway into Disney Princesses).

It was also another opportunity to introduce my daughter to what has become a cultural phenomenon, but one that is still perceived by many to be something for boys. I never want my daughter to dismiss something techy and creative as not being for girls too. So Minecraft was something I was keen to explore with my daughter.

The perfect opportunity arose with our recent acquisition of the Xbox One S Minecraft Bundle – which comes not only with 2 versions of the game and an expansion pack, but also has some cool Minecraft themed packaging. If you’re looking to give the gift of Minecraft to your child/family this Christmas – this Xbox One S Minecraft bundle is the perfect way.

So WTF is Minecraft?

It’s what’s known as a Sandbox Game – where traditional structures and narratives are removed, and players are free to explore and create. They are generally open ended, with freedom of choice at the heart of the concept.

In Minecraft, the player creates structures out of simple blocks. But within that concept are many variables – the type of materials, gathering and managing resources, combining materials to create tools and structures (crafting), exploring – and survival.

On occasion I’ve read of purists claiming the console version does not provide an authentic Minecraft experience – but more have argued this is a great entry point, especially in a family setting.

To my untrained eye, the world of possibilities is obviously vast from the moment you begin.

What to do on your first ‘day’ in Minecraft

I recommend going into Tutorial Mode first, as this will guide you through all aspects of the game. But you may just throw caution to the wind and go for survival mode, which is also a popular place to start.

My first reaction to opening up Minecraft was WTF. You dropped unceremoniously into an environment of trees, running water, and farm animals. All seems calm, but don’t be fooled, this is also a place of bad weather, wolves, and monsters.

We quickly learned that the first task you must do is to build a shelter by nightfall – as this is when the monsters come out. My daughter was chased by a some kind of zombie who then burst into flames and set us on fire. After we respawned (Minecraft lingo for coming back to life), the first thing we did was figure out how to build a shelter.

The ‘mining’ aspect of Minecraft sees you dig, grab, or chop resources one 3D block at a time. Once ‘mined’ you can then ‘craft’ these in various ways. Eg. you can chop wood, craft it into planks, and then use these planks to build structures or items such as doors or sticks. This all happens in the inventory and crafting platform.

There are a number of ways you can build a shelter. The simplest is to dig into the dirt to make a hole, and then fill the top with more dirt. Or you could make a wooden structure crafted from chopped trees.

For example, to get wood head to a tree, and punch/mine it. Eventually the block will disappear and you will have acquired some wood. Do this for the rest of the tree (by tilting up/down to aim at relevant block), and then repeat for other trees.

Then you need to go into your inventory to craft this wood into planks, and then place these planks into a structure, including the roof. To build a door, you will need to build a crafting table first.

Anyway, in Tutorial Mode, there is a ruin of an existing structure for you to add to and create your first shelter – which is what we did.

our-first-minecraft-shelter-in-tutorial-mode, Minecraft screenshot
Our very first shelter, in Tutorial Mode. We added on to a ruin of an existing structure and installed a door.

If in survival mode, you can elect to chop down trees too. But instead, we mined into the side of the hill to create a sort of hobbit hole. We added a door, and a trap door on top so we could see when it was daytime again.

our-first-minecraft-shelter-dug-into-the-side-of-the-hill
Our first Minecraft home in Survival Mode – a kind of Hobbit-hole, dug into the side of the hill. We added a door to keep monsters out, and a trapdoor on top so we can see when it’s daytime again.

If you have time in your ‘day’ (which lasts about 10 minutes), it might be an idea to look for food. These can be fruit & veg, or meat. If you approach animals and start hitting them, you can kill them for meat. My daughter thought it was hilarious to kill the animals for food. “Daddy, there’s a pig! Let’s kill it!” was a typical utterance.

Raw meat is ok for now, but later you’ll be able to cook it and even create dishes in the crafting menu. Sheep are especially good to slaughter, because you also get wool – which you’ll need to make a bed (bed’s make nighttime go quicker among other things).

These all add up to the beginnings of taking charge of your environment. The first task is to survive, and to do that you need to create. It’s brilliant and engrossing.

Sharing Minecraft with my daughter

My daughter adores it, and is immensely enthused as we explore the ways we can build and expand this new world. It also offers an interesting way to talk about human development – building shelters, sourcing food, and crafting tools to help with both.

We have barely scratched the surface of Minecraft. I can see why it is considered ‘addictive’, but to me that implies that it is a pointless pursuit.  Minecraft is a great platform for creativity, problem solving, and collaboration.

While we may get other games for our Xbox One S, it will for the time being, and I predict for many years to come, be our family gateway into the wonderful world of Minecraft.

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EXTRA: You have to check this out – Dave, who blogs as The DADventurer, did this wonderful unboxing video with his 2-year-old daughter. He has provided subtitles to give us an insight into how she perceives the world. Adorable 🙂

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The Xbox One S Minecraft Bundle (500GB) has an RRP of £249.99.

If you are purchasing the Xbox One S Minecraft Bundle as a present, check out more tips and info on the Xbox One S Family Hub, and in this video:

**This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Xbox UK.**

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