Minecraft was originally developed using Java as a programming language, however, Microsoft has made many changes and additions to the way in which Minecraft is programmed over the years. Makecode by Microsoft is a great tool to learn programming with Minecraft!
The Bedrock edition of Minecraft is written in C++, and it has been adapted in other languages for different platforms like iOS, but Java continues to be the language of choice for the majority build of Minecraft.It is also the programming language that people most often interact with when coding mods for Minecraft.
Table of contents
- What is Minecraft?
- What Language is Minecraft Coded in?
- How Can Minecraft Help Kids Code?
- Learn programming concepts with Minecraft
- Let’s learn to program Minecraft in Makecode.
- Quick Tutorial on Creating a Farm Mod
- Final Thoughts
What is Minecraft?
Minecraft is a video game where players create and break apart various kinds of blocks in a sandbox three-dimensional world. The motto of the game ‘if you can dream it, you can build it’ holds as kids have access to all the Minecraft blocks, potions, weapons, and more. Kids have a free range to express their creativity and often with friends. In this way, the game Minecraft offers a unique opportunity for kids to develop communication, critical thinking, and creativity skills.
Still, from a parent’s perspective, there are things to be cautious of. In general Minecraft is safe for kids, however, digital interaction may not always be so. So, some best practice is to make sure your child is playing on an official server or joining a game with participants you approve of. Remind your child not to give out any personal information and not to converse with someone they don’t know. You do not want to accrue unnecessary charges or worse. Finally, you can even join a game with them to build some good family bonding time.
What Language is Minecraft Coded in?
The coding language that Minecraft uses is Java. Java is a language used for many web programs and games, it is fairly easy to understand how it functions and how to code. Java is a great stepping stone into the world of programming. The numerous different graphical blocks and sprites are generated from the LWJGL library. And, believe it or not, the first version of Minecraft was created in just 6 days. All this makes it very possible for kids to not only play Minecraft but learn some fundamentals of coding through it.
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How Can Minecraft Help Kids Code?
As an educational platform, Minecraft has been used to teach a wide variety of concepts, so it makes sense to assume that it would be useful for teaching coding/programming.
It is clear from Minecraft’s description that it is an excellent place for students to learn coding by providing both a virtual environment to interact with their educators as well as a visual representation of the effects coding can have on them.Though a structured approach is required for kids to learn software programming.
The key thing to remember in all of this is that Minecraft by itself is not going to be able to teach a kid how to code, but it can be a great way to build their interest in coding and can be useful as part of a well-crafted educational curriculum.
Learn programming concepts with Minecraft
Redstone makes it fairly easy to make small items, but more complex challenges require a deeper understanding of advanced programming concepts.
The Redstone mechanics demonstrate an understanding of programming basics.
Just like computer’s binary language, Redstone is either on or off (0 or 1). Even though experimentation is an effective method of learning coding concepts, it is not the simplest nor most direct method. Online tutorials that demonstrate the basics can help many kids overcome this challenge.
Minecraft console commands are a more direct way of interacting with programming. By typing these commands into the chat box, you are able to control your Minecraft world as you wish.
In this game, you can alter the weather cycle, travel to distant locations, and create items you could not otherwise acquire. Although it isn’t code, it teaches you an important concept about coding. What we type into our computer affects what we see in the digital world.
There was a new module introduced in Minecraft in 2012 called the command block, which took console commands to the next level. These blocks are able to execute console commands within the game itself whenever certain requirements are met. Command blocks can introduce complex concepts like conditionals when combined with Redstone engineering, which can lead to the creation of Minecraft-like coding languages. Instead of using the console commands, it turns them into Minecraft-like code.
Taking the next step involves learning actual code rather than just understanding programming concepts. Starting with a simple and well-documented language like Python is a good idea.
One way to practice Python is through Minecraft Pi. The Raspberry Pi devices support free downloads of the game, but they offer a modding console as well. It was developed specifically for the Raspberry Pi.This console allows coders to use the Python language to build mods that change the gameplay in Minecraft. Real time changes make the coding exercise interactive for students. This game will motivate you to learn Python, but it doesn’t actually teach Python.
Let’s learn to program Minecraft in Makecode.
There are many online resources that teach the basics of coding through Minecraft. Here, we will focus on a free, deeply trusted program through the tech powerhouse Microsoft. Microsoft’s Makecode is a great FREE website for your child to watch tutorials about how to use the interface and how to get started creating projects. It allows your child to program three different ways either through blocks, simulators, or raw code depending on their comfort level. We recommend the lava tower tutorial as a really cool option to start as well as flower trail. The tutorials are engaging and offer flexibility for your child to try out different programming languages. Furthermore, it also motivates kids to keep learning through a diamond economy (similar to Minecraft) that they can use to unlock more features.
Quick Tutorial on Creating a Farm Mod
Login to your Microsoft’s Makecode Account.
Select new project or start a tutorial.
Create a main, an animal, and a fence function.
Create new Variable called d, set to new drone, and place it in the main function.
Code d to spawn mob types of whatever animals you want on your farm inside your animal function.
Code d to create a 20 x 20 fence.
Callback animal and fence function in your main function.
Click green RUN button and run in Minecraft.
Minecraft: Education Edition
The other big way that Minecraft is helping kids learn to code is through Minecraft: Education Edition.
Education Edition is a version of Minecraft created specifically for use in school settings. As such, it has features aimed at helping teachers to manage their classrooms, like the ability to limit where students can go, or what they can change in-game. It has special items designed to facilitate taking notes when doing assignments and there are a ton of maps that teachers created to teach interesting topics in a virtual setting.
While maps built for teaching code do exist, the platform itself isn’t aimed at coding. Instead of teaching a specific topic, it acts as a virtual classroom space used to teach any topic.
Education Edition also has limited availability. It is only for schools and organizations that can prove that they are using it to further the education of large groups of kids.
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Now that you’ve learned about Minecraft, the different way kids play it, and how it will transform the way your child thinks about coding, get started coding Minecraft! Developing an interest in coding and game design early will pay dividends in strengthening problem solving and critical thinking skills for life. With the current trends in technology, it is more important now than ever to gain an edge and who knows maybe your child will become the next Notch and dream up the next Minecraft!