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December 2, 2012 / Sarah Ludwig

It’s Official, I’m Addicted to Minecraft

This past Friday marked the first meeting of the library’s Minecraft Club. I am running the club with Chris, our help desk technician who, fortunately, is an expert on the subject. I am still learning, which is kind of funny, since all these kids are running circles around me.

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Here’s how we’re running it:

Chris built a server. That’s about all I can say about that, since I know nothing about servers. So, if you want to run a Minecraft Club, unless you know how to build a server, make sure you’re friends with someone you can. We shared the server address with the kids and are letting them use it whenever they want. We turn it on at 3 p.m., so it’s not on during the school day. And if we ever need to, we can turn it off at night, too. It depends on how things go.

The students have divided into four factions so far, and each faction is responsible for building its own city, however they want. There is a beacon in the center of the world that leads players back to the NPC Village. There, players can meet up, or store things for each other in several chests.

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

Chris has made a map of the world so far, so that people know where the cities are located, and I created a Google doc that will allow the students to note the coordinates and shape of their city, as well as who lives where. Once a city plot has been claimed, it is against the rules to build on that space or take anything from that space. These factions and cities can change as the game goes on, and some students may choose to strike off on their own and not join a city.

One student is the leader of his or her city, and other players can join that city. Right now, we have the server set on peaceful, which means, basically, that there are no enemies for the players to fight….right now. After everyone is ready, we will change the difficulty level. Then the creepers and zombies will come out, among other NPC enemies.

In addition, we have turned off PVP, which means the players can’t fight each other. Again, once everyone is ready, we’ll change this, since the kids really want to raid each other’s cities. PVP stands for Player vs. Player–in other words, fighting and stealing.

The club meets every Friday for one hour. That time is set aside for planning and catching up. The kids will do much of the work on their own time. I just logged in this afternoon, and there were at least half a dozen students online.

Every student needs an account to play, but they do not need a laptop. Chris installed Minecraft on the 18 computers in our library computer lab. Accounts are about $26, but you can get them for $18 on MinecraftEdu, which is a fabulous website that really covers the educational aspects of Minecraft. This site was very useful when I was explaining to the faculty why we have a Minecraft club and how it will work.

Already, I’m seeing amazing things happening. The world has been completely transformed, and watching the students interact with each other has been educational for me. There’s something about Minecraft that really encourages collaboration, but also a fairly structured system of ethics….in other words, players have a sense of right and wrong and what is and isn’t OK in the game. They’re trading, but they’re also plotting. It’s fascinating.

And yes, I’m already addicted, even though I’m still not very good. There is a steep learning curve, but I’m starting to get it, and the more I play, the more comfortable I get. I’ll never, EVER be as good as my students, but what else is new?

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3 Comments

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  1. Whitney / Dec 18 2012 4:01 pm

    Hi Sarah!
    Quick question (maybe for you/Chris): does the server you all built live “in a cloud” or is it hosted by your school? Did you think of having an outside company (Amazon, etc.) host your server? Are there any pros/cons to hosting your own server?

    As you can probably tell, we are trying to get a Minecraft club going here at our school. This post was super helpful, and any other tips you can pass along would be appreciated!

    • Sarah Ludwig / Dec 20 2012 4:50 pm

      OK. here’s his answer. I hope this helps:

      Bukkit servers have powerful tools to give you more control. The deciding factor for us was cost and control. The ability to set up access exactly how we wanted made my life easier, but “the hard way” is the least frustrating for me so I do stuff backwards.

      Plus, you know, free.

      He also said: Were funds not an issue and were I not madly in love with linux scripting, I would have gone with bukkit servers.

  2. Sarah Ludwig / Dec 18 2012 4:57 pm

    Hi!
    Our server lives at Chris’s house. 🙂 I will ask him about getting an outside company to host. I know we have a lot of control over our server, but I bet you would also be able to have the same kind of control with a remote host. I will ask him and get back to you!

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