Minecraft–A Multiuser virtual environment

Today I am giving an overview of Minecraft Pocket Edition (MCPE).  This is an electronic game that my daughter Grace has been playing for a few years now on her iPod and iPad.  In this game, users build and create virtual environments out of 3-dimensional building blocks, or cubes.  Users have the ability to design their own players, allowing their individuality to shine through in their characters.  In MCPE, there are 2 player modes–creative and survival.

Creative mode

In the creative mode, users have access to all the blocks they desire and can build whatever they wish.  There are two types of land in creative mode–there is a flat environment with no hills or trees.  This type of land is great for building large structures, such as castles.  Below you will see that Grace has created an entire town in this mode.  Her town is complete with a church, movie theater, roller dome, library, bakery, bank, and dance studio.

Grace's MCPE town

 The other type of land in creative mode is similar to a natural environment, with grass, trees, hills, and even different types of weather.  Users can choose which environment they want to build their world in.  Below is an example of a village in a MCPE natural environment.

MCPE village in a natural environment

Survival mode

In survival mode, users automatically spawn into a natural environment where they have to find food, build shelter, and scavenge materials to survive.  Over time, users collect tools like the ones below that help them survive.  Pick axes can be used to mine blocks so that users can build new structures.

MCPE survival tools

A fun feature of MCPE is that if another device is near, players have the ability to interact with one another, turning it into a social game.  Users can play in each other’s worlds as long as their devices are in close proximity.

There are other apps that interact with Minecraft, such as Minecraft Maps.  This app allows users to visit environments created by other players across the globe. There is also an option to add other environments or to play in other user’s worlds by logging in to different servers.

Of Minecraft Pocket Edition, Grace says, “I really like that you can change your worlds and customize them to be whatever you want.”  Unlike a typical video game where the backgrounds and worlds are programmed into the game, users get to create their own playing environments in MCPE.  There are an infinite amount of ways that you can play and create in Minecraft Pocket Edition.

Libraries can offer programming to children and teens that feature multi-user virtual environment games like Minecraft.  Minecraft clubs can meet on a regular basis at the library, allowing players to interact with each other in their building block worlds.  Library staff can create their own libraries within the game.  They could also build environments made famous in popular literature. Picture the haunting moors in Wuthering Heights or the stark and barren landscape of Mars as found in The Martian.  Again, the possibilities seem endless.  If they aren’t already, young adult librarians should be tapping into the Minecraft sensation in order to reach this often overlooked population of teens.

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