If your kid has been swept up in the “Minecraft” craze, you've probably come to realize that resistance is futile. It isn't only the game itself that kids obsess over. There are Minecraft YouTube videos, “Minecraft”-like games, and lots more.
Here's the know-how you need to engage with your kid on one of the coolest games out there.
A GUIDE TO THE “MINECRAFT” GAMES BY AGE
One of the best-selling, independently developed and published video games, Minecraft immerses kids in creative thinking, geometry, and even a little geology as they build imaginative block structures. Here's the scoop on the games that make up “Minecraft's” offerings:
_'Minecraft,' age 8; platforms: Linux, Mac, Windows, Xbox 360
“Minecraft” is an open-ended, exploration- and creation-focused environment. Players can create items and buildings from scratch using materials they harvest from the world around them. Given carte blanche to sculpt virtually any creation of their choice in this 3-D space, kids can try 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-Pocket Edition,' age 8; devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android, Kindle Fire
“Minecraft-Pocket Edition” is a mobile version of the popular PC game. Players can build essentially anything in this game, so long as they're able to mine the appropriate resources.
‘Minecraft: Story Mode,' age 10; platforms: Mac, Nintendo Wii U, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Windows, Xbox 360, Xbox One, iPhone
Though part of the fun of “Minecraft” is creating the story as you go along, “Story Mode” offers a storyline, characters, and plot for kids who prefer a narrative. This game offers positive messages about teamwork and diplomacy, and its learning curve isn't as steep as the original.
‘MINECRAFT' ON YOUTUBE
Since Minecraft is a game that spans many ages – and has infinite possibilities – not all YouTube videos will be appropriate for your kid. Here's one of our faves for young players.
‘Wonder Quest' (for age 6+)
This YouTube program is inspired by “Minecraft,” and its central character hails from creator Joseph Garrett's other Internet hit, Stampylonghead. The videos do an excellent job blending comedy, adventure, and quality educational content under the premise of its heroes' efforts to thwart a villain's plan and return a collection of gems to their town. There are even social lessons that promote cooperation, kindness, and perseverance.
GAMES LIKE ‘MINECRAFT'
Because of its complexity, mild violence, and online community, we recommend “Minecraft” for kids age 8 and up. So what if your younger kids want to play but aren't quite ready? These games can occupy them with a very similar style, without some of the tougher stuff.
‘Blox, 3D Junior,' age 5
With a style similar to “Lego” and “Minecraft,” this app's 3-D creation environment empowers kids to create, encourages visual acuity, and fosters critical thinking.
‘The Robot Factory,' by Tinybop, age 6
This exploratory app for early elementary school-age kids is tailor-made for players who love to create, design, and experience free play.
‘Toca Builders,' age 6
“Toca Builders” offers sandbox-style play where kids can create worlds. It's easier to pick up and play than Minecraft, and there's no fighting or monsters.
“Hovercraft – Build Fly, Retry,” age 7
Kids can learn about physics and problem solving as they design, test, and rebuild a hovercraft.
Common Sense Media is an independent nonprofit organization offering unbiased ratings and trusted advice to help families make smart media and technology choices. Check out our ratings and recommendations at www.commonsense.org.