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 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.

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 🙂


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.**

Raising a gamer girl, with help from the Xbox One S (Minecraft Edition)

As a dad of a daughter, I’ve always been keen to undermine the idea that some activities or pastimes are for boys only – whether it’s climbing trees, being into Star Wars, or playing video games…

So gaming is an area I’ve been keen to explore with my daughter, especially before any sense of ‘that’s for boys’ seeps into her consciousness.

We’ve just upgraded our existing console (which predates my becoming a parent) to an Xbox One – specifically the Xbox One S Minecraft Favourites Bundle.

To me, the Xbox brand has always been synonymous with serious gaming, aimed at older kids and adults – so how does it work in a family environment? Are there games that my young daughter can play? What other uses are there for it? How easy is it to set up? (This is our first Xbox).

Xbox One S: What’s in the box

You get a white 500gb Xbox S, a wireless controller (with batteries), power lead, and a HDMI cable. You also get download codes for any games included in the bundle (in this case Minecraft) and a 14-day Xbox Live Gold trial. And it’s all in very cool Minecraft packaging.

The initial set-up is very easy. There’s a pamphlet showing you how connect it, but it’s so simple you don’t really need it – connect HDMI lead from Xbox to TV, plug in power, insert batteries into controller, and power up.

You also have the option of running any set top box through the Xbox, but this is something we have yet to explore. I would recommend downloading the smartphone app. Among other things, it doubles as a remote control and makes entering redeemable codes a whole lot simpler.

So – easy, you’re ready to go! Ok, not so fast.

Configuring your Xbox One S: Think of the Kids!

Once it’s on and hooked up to your screen – the real set up begins. You will be guided by onscreen instructions to set language, region, and display settings – as well as the most time consuming, the big bad system update. Have your wifi details standing by. And a glass of wine.

This set up – while easy to do – is time consuming, with all the downloads and installing.  You’ll even need to update the controller software, download a DVD/BluRay player, set parental controls, and sort out an Xbox live account. You’re looking at a good hour or 2.

If you’re buying this for the kids, they are going to want to play with this as soon as possible. My advice is to get this set up done prior to the big reveal to your kids.  After you’ve completed it, you can still package it back and wrap it up to maximise their surprise. If this is for Xmas, this is a good activity to have running in the background while wrapping their presents and drinking mulled wine. 🙂

This console came bundled with Minecraft. I’ll go into the game more in another post (as Minecraft deserves a post of it’s own), but as there was no physical copy of the game – it was a redeemable code – this was something else that needed to be downloaded and installed prior to use.

For more on how to set up your console, especially if you’re buying it as a present, head to the Xbox One S family hub and check out this video too.


The Xbox One S: Gaming console and media hub

For me, as well as getting my daughter into to the fun of gaming early, having access to other girl empowering media is vitally important. So it’s great that we can watch the likes of My Little Pony, Young Justice, and The Legend of Korra via our Xbox, with streaming apps like Amazon Video and Netflix. There are also plenty of movies downloads to rent or buy.

It’s also worth noting that the Xbox One S offers 4k streaming (from available services) for those already with, or looking to upgrade to, a new 4k UHD TV.

The Xbox One S: A console for all the family 

There’s lots more to explore, but so far it’s easy to see that the Xbox One S is not only a powerful gaming console, but a versatile media hub – and is perfect to have at the heart of a modern family living room.

While Minecraft is a great game to enjoy with your kids, I am really looking forward to upgrading our existing family games – especially LEGO Dimensions. And browsing the Xbox games available to download, it’s clear there are plenty of other great titles for kids too.

My daughter is increasingly keen on gaming, and the addition of the Xbox One S into our household has only encouraged it. So far, it looks like we have a gamer girl in the making.

Also raising a new generation of gamer girls is Darren of Love All Dads. Check out his Xbox video with his daughters:


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

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