Monday, 10 November 2014

It's Minecraft Week! Welcome to a week of Minecraft book, educational and crafty goodness!

A Creeper. You really do NOT want to get this close to one, trust us!

We're kicking off a week of themed posts this week, celebrating something that you wouldn't normally associate with a children's book blog. But bear with us, you see the phenomenon known as Minecraft may be a complete mystery to you, but I guarantee that most of your kids will know their creepers from their endermen, their obsidian from their netherwrack.

I've loved Minecraft since I first encountered it back in 2011. Charlotte took to Minecraft like a duck to water, initially directing me to build things at her behest but now picking up the joypad and wading into the complexities of Minecraft all on her own.

To help befuddled grown-ups through the minefield that is Minecraft, we've got a series of posts coming up but first of all, let's delve into the part of Minecraft that unexpectedly emerges once people start playing.

The Minecraft landscape. It might look blocky and basic but looks can be VERY deceiving!

So what on earth is Minecraft?

If you've been living at the bottom of a deep dark mineshaft with no sticks and charcoal to make torches with, the whole Minecraft phenomenon might've completely passed you by. Minecraft entered official alpha testing way back in 2009 / 2010, the work of Markus (Notch) Persson and a small team of developers at Mojang, beavering away in a tiny studio in The Netherlands (quite apt really!)

Minecraft's first version was basic and rudimentary, lacking most of the features we know and love today (the first versions didn't even feature crafting - the way you delicately gather ingredients and materials to make other things in the Minecraft world).

Several versions later, Minecraft exploded onto the Indie games scene with a colossal TNT-fuelled BOOM! People started to realise that essentially what they had was the infinite power of pixellated creation in their grubby little mitts.

To date, 17,136,328 people have picked up a copy of Minecraft, available on just about anything you can think of (PC, Mac, PS3, PS4, PS Vita, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Android and iOS). Minecraft is now the world's biggest gaming community and Minecraft players and engineers wear their colours proudly (I usually kick around with a couple of Minecraft charms tied to my work bag!)

Whether playing on their own or collaborating with others, Minecraft engineers soon begin to turn the various blocks and items found in these randomly generated worlds into amazing constructions. Name just about any building in the world, or element of popular culture and you can bet someone somewhere has rendered a fairly good likeness in Minecraft.

It's like owning a never-ending set of Lego at its most basic, but for more experienced Minecraft players and engineers, there's a lot more to it besides.

You can take a look at Minecraft by hopping over to the Official Minecraft Website here. You can also play a demo of the game, running in your internet browser, to see if it's your cup of tea...!

We'll be continuing our posts throughout the week, starting off by looking at Egmont's superb range of Official Minecraft Books. A quartet of brilliant 'how-to' guides that will get you off to a flying start with Minecraft Basics, Crafting, Combat and Redstone!

Important Note!

Minecraft has evolved into a huge (and largely uncontrolled / unmonitored) online community. Please exercise caution when letting your little ones loose on the Internet to look at Minecraft stuff and always take a look at anything they've flagged up first. The majority of Minecraft users are lovely folk but do take care online, particularly in multiplayer online games.