Minecraft: Why is everyone obsessed with a video game?
Our guide to the latest video game that has (probably) taken your children and grandchildren by storm
Chances are if you have a grandchild aged 10 or under their latest obsession is a video game called Minecraft.
The cuboid world of Steve, and now Alex, has enchanted children all over the world and with a movie on the way, Minecraft hysteria is only going to increase. To an outsider however, the colourful building block game can seem confusing and you may find yourself wondering what the appeal is.
Our helpful guide provides all the information you need to get you up to speed with the world of Minecraft.
What is it?
The game was created by Swedish programmer Markus Persson in 2009 after he quit his job in order to create his own game. The "primary motivation was to create an experience where each individual component felt fun. A game that could be both accessible and emergent."
Not long after that, Minecraft was born. It is set in a virtual world made of cubes of varying materials which are used by the players to build and create weapons.
Unlike most popular games, there are no rules to follow or strict missions to complete - how the game is played is entirely up to the player.
Minecraft is available on PCs, Playstation, Xbox, iOS, Android and several other platforms.
Read more - Minecraft maker Mojang plans 'Story Mode'
How does it work?
Using either Steve or Alex, the main protagonists, as their avatar the player is transported to a randomly generated world where they're given free reign to build their own creations.
There are two modes within the game: 'survival' and 'creative'. In survival mode, players use the blocks to build shelters and turn raw materials into items that will help them hide from and kill the monsters that appear - zombies, skeletons and more.
In creative mode the players can build whatever they please and roam freely without threat of a zombie attack.
Read more - Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?
Why is it so popular?
Becoming the top selling computer game of all time is no easy feat but with unsophisticated graphics and no real plot it may seem like Minecraft isn’t deserving of that title. Though some argue that its simplicity is the reason for it's success. In Minecraft, the only limit is your imagination.
Players are able to create structures far beyond their capability in the real world. A list of the 25 'greatest' Minecraft creations features the fictional Kings Landing, an Ancient Metropolis, and a Babylonian city to name a few.
Youtube has also played a big part in the rapidly rising popularity of Minecraft. When you're grandchild isn't playing the game, it's entirely likely they're watching someone else play it on Youtube or uploading their own walkthroughs. Gamers like 'Stampylonghead' have developed a following of over six million subscribers thanks to his daily Minecraft upload.
How can you get involved?
Though your initial reaction might be to think video games are inherently bad for children, Minecraft has proved its educational value, with teachers all over the world using it in their classrooms. There's even a specially made 'Education Edition' of the game.
Turn your grandchild's video game into a learning opportunity by getting them to build scale models to teach them about ratio and proportion. You can even import maps and structures of ancient buildings and "walk around" with them to explore.
If you're worried about online safety, websites like The Sandlot and Intercraften provide specially made family friendly servers with strict rules on language and behaviour that are impossible to join without being added to a list.