minecraft

Minecraft Versions ?!?!?

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Indianapolis in Minecraft, Xbox One

When my son first started playing Minecraft, I was aware of only one method of doing so:  a paid app on his Kindle Fire.  Turns out, there are many versions and platforms for Minecraft.  Our students typically understand these much better than their parents, and we’ll typically hear things like “you didn’t get me the right version” or “this isn’t the right Minecraft.”

Parents:  this post is for you.  I’m going to try and simplify the best that I can the many versions and iterations of Minecraft.  And I’m going to try and do so without my son’s help.

So Many Minecrafts!

First off, you will have to pay for Minecraft — no matter which version or platform.  There is no free version of Minecraft.  Some apps have free versions but Minecraft isn’t one of them.

For consoles (Playstation 3/4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Nintendo Wii U) you can simply purchase Minecraft for that platform at the store.  There are some other adventure-type versions of Minecraft for these platforms (Minecraft Story Mode), but they don’t allow the blank canvas of creativity found in traditional Minecraft.  And, as your kids would probably say, “that’s not the right version”.

For Chromebooks you’re mostly out of luck.  There aren’t any straightforward ways of playing Minecraft on a Chromebook.

For Android, iOS, and Kindle Fire devices buy the app from the Play Store, Apple Store, or Amazon Store.  As of 6/20/17, the app costs $6.99.  This version is technically called Minecraft PE (Pocket Edition).  It does have limitations versus the other versions of Minecraft but is a great place to start for most kids.

minecraft

If you have a Mac, you can go to mojang.net and download/buy by clicking the Download button.  You will have to create an account with Mojang to manage your download.  The current price on this version is $26.95.  The download and install is fairly simple.  Since Mojang (the developer of Minecraft) is located in Sweden, you might have issues with credit card purchases online.  Or, you can elect to buy one of the Minecraft gift cards at Wal-Mart, Target, etc.  You’ll notice that they cost $26.95 and have a code that you can easily redeem on the site after creating your account.

Windows (especially Windows 10) is the trickiest.  You definitely want the Java version of Minecraft for Windows.  This is the version that allows your kids to create modifications using the Java programming language.  The Windows 10 app (non-Java version) is not quite as robust as the Java version.  And, as we found out at our last Minecraft party, the Windows 10 app doesn’t work when connecting to our servers.

Getting Started

Our recommendation for those starting out is to buy the app for a tablet or console.  This is simply because the controls are much easier to manage for younger kids.  Once they’ve mastered that version, download the Java version for PC or Mac.  Also, buy a mouse to make this one easier to use.  This version gives the most flexibility and allows them to modify Minecraft via programming the most.  (It’s also the version that we use in all of our classes & parties)

Hope this helps.  Feel free to reach out to us on the Contact Page if you have any questions.  Believe me; as parents, we’ve been there as well 🙂

debugging code

What if I … ?

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What If I…?

These are my favorite three words uttered by our students.  My answer is almost always the same:  “let’s find out.”

Computer programming gives students the unique ability to not only ponder about “what ifs”, but to immediately put them into action.  What if I change the order of these code blocks?  What if I change “Enderman” in this code to “EnderDragon”? (Minecraft lingo if you’re not aware)  Students can make the changes, run the program, and gain instantaneous feedback to move forward.

When students ask these types of questions I know they’re on the right track.  It means they’re engaged in what we’re doing.  It means they’re being creative.  It’s probably a good indicator of their ability to solve problems in the future.

What if I…?  Do it.  Let’s find out.

A father and son discuss code

How to Buy a Laptop for a Child

It’s the Christmas season, and as parents we’re likely being bombarded by our children for various requests. This year was the first year my son asked for a laptop. He’s nine. Even as someone who wants his children to be involved in technology, I wondered if nine was too young for a laptop. Part of the struggle was this would be somewhat a “learning laptop” for him. He hasn’t had to care for a computer on his own. So dropping $600 or more on a laptop seemed a bit much.

Here are some steps I took while figuring out what to do, and I hope this helps you!

1. Ask Your Child Questions

A father and son discuss codeFind out the main reason he wants a laptop. Is it to play video games? Is it for homework? Is it a school requirement? Is it to learn to code? Bonus points should be allotted if the answer is yes to coding. Dig into the basic questions because these have very easy and tangible answers. Open ended questions can get him lost in the actual why. So ask for examples.

2. Learn About System Requirements

This one used to be harder to come by before search engines. Today, you can search for virtually any “*software* system requirements”, and you’ll get a good idea on what the bare minimums should be. Don’t immediately jump at the cheapest. In the case of my son, he wanted to play Minecraft, so I needed to find out what the real minimum should be. I searched “minecraft system requirements” and the first result answered my questions. It should be mentioned he did say he wanted to learn to code. The little guy knows how to work his father.

3. Shop Around

Use the system requirements you found to locate good laptops. Look across different laptop manufacturers to get a good sense of what they offer. It’s easy to jump for the cheapest, but you need to find the laptop or computer that meet the minimum or recommended requirements. The good news is you can often shop and filter down by the specifications so it’s a lot easier to locate. To save yourself jumping from site to site, Amazon provides a good look at a lot of different manufacturers from one location.

4. Consider Certified Refurbished

If you’re like me, you might start to feel discouraged because all of these laptops are more priced for adults and working professionals instead of children. There is another alternative that can still make your child’s Christmas wish come true. Look for certified refurbished laptops. A certified refurbished laptop is a used laptop that has been repaired by the manufacturer, and many do come with a 1 year warranty – the same as the shiny new laptops.

A certified refurbished laptop can save you up to 60-70% at times from the cost of a brand new laptop. This is where I struck gold. I found an HP laptop with a 1 year warranty that plays Minecraft and has some additional power to learn to code for $240 instead of the going rate of $600 or more. This Christmas, Mom and Dad (or Santa) are heroes.

Do you have any questions about laptops or computers we can answer? Please leave a comment below.