CARSONI admittedly didn’t know very much about the Minecraft toy and game selection until Halloween, when my uncle sent a photo of the costume that he had made for his son; who am I kidding—I knew nothing until then! My cousin Carson is a 5 year-old obsessed with the stuff! At the time, all I knew was that Carson could make anything look adorable, and that he had clearly moved on from trains and into this world where players can build constructions out of textured cubes in a 3-D generated world. I can’t even begin to understand all of the insider ins-and-outs of Minecraft, and it seems as though the name represents an entity of games and licensed products. I do, though, like to get as involved as I can with Carson, as I am much more aware of the favorites of his sister, Kennedy, since they were the same as mine: all things pink. Man, girls are simple! In time for the holidays, I took the game home to see what this Minecraft business is all about, so I can get those ever-elusive little kid “brownie points” while I’m home for Christmas.

My roommates and I were up all night playing it, realizing around midnight that the game was quite gameaddictive. The game is split into two separate modes: Creative and Survival. Both versions can be played with multiple players. If you’re mostly interested in making huge structures from scratch with unlimited resources, Creative mode is your best bet. With Creative mode, you can pull blocks of all shapes and sizes out of thin air, but you won’t see any enemies. Maybe if there were more games such as Minecraft Creative, I’d be more of a gamer-type. Survival mode is vastly different. Forget the endless blocks at your disposal. If you’d prefer a world of danger—as I’m sure most of you do—where you’re crafting and creating out of necessity for survival, you’ll want to play in Survival mode. This version comes with gangs of monsters who want to break, explode, and eat your bones, one pixel at a time. To me, this sounds horrendous, but to Carson (and surely every other young boy on the planet), this sounds like the best day ever. Creatures come out at night, and part of survival is fighting off the things that lurk in the dark. Players of the game are left to build structures from 3-D textured cubes in this totally separate world, where they experience exploration, gathering resources, crafting, and combat. The cubes make up the elements of this world including dirt, stone, various ores, water, and tree trunks.

Minecraft-gamesAnd not to fear-if you have any questions, the website serves as a resource and instruction manual to all things Minecraft, including the history, community, instructions, store, and profile. There is even a demo available on the website, so parents and kids can test the game before purchasing it. The game is now available in many different areas including plush, clothing, Lego sets, sticker packs, play weapons, and more. The game is available on almost every platform, including PC (where it all started), Android, iOS, Xbox 360, Xbox Live Arcade, and talks of a future release with Playstation. Minecraft also throws a little bit of education in the game, separating it into separate biomes: deserts, forests, and snowfields. I appreciate that this game has no actual goal, which I think makes it a longer-lasting-than-most game for kids, and well, for me as well. I always found that once I’d reached the top level of a game, I was finished with it, but Minecraft is pretty never-ending, as kids can continue to create and survive for as long as their little hearts desire!

For more commentary from Kara, check back often. Views expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Toy Book as a whole. We hope that you will share your comments and feedback below. Until next time!