Leicester City Council's BSF ICT strand is all about using technology to support learning, teaching, community development, and (very importantly) about having fun. So it was no surprise that the whole team were enthusiastic about supporting the ClubClub Minecraft Meetup event at LCB Depot, which took place on Saturday 18th May.
Around 180 people of all ages decended on LCB Depot for the Meetup, which included talks, activities, and competitions. We've rounded up all of the resources from the day in one handy place!
Joseph Ishmael (16) and Luke Shortland (15) kicked off the day with an introduction to Minecraft.
Hi, we are Joseph and Luke.
We are very happy to be opening today's Minecraft event with a short talk to introduce Minecraft. We know there are a lot of people here today who know the game and play it a lot, but many of the parents here today will have no idea what Minecraft might be. So this talk is especially for you.
Minecraft is a creative game created by a Swedish programmer called Markus Persson “Notch”(as many people know him). The game was developed and published by Mojang in May 2009. The game is unique because it is mainly based on blocks and being creative.
Minecraft is available for different platforms. Personal computer (PC) was the original platform, the game runs on multiple operating systems including Windows, Mac OS X (for Apple computers) and Linux. Minecraft – Pocket Edition was released for Android phones in October 2011, and for iOS (Apple phones and iPad) in November 2011. This is a cut down version of the game that focuses on building and survival basics. Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition was released in May 2012. Minecraft: Pi Edition for the Raspberry Pi, allows players to use code to make things happen in the game world. it was officially released in February 2013. At the end of 2012 sales were at about 20 million across all platforms, with sales roughly even across PC, Xbox and mobile versions.
People of all ages all over the world play Minecraft –it is now even being used by teachers and educators to support learning.
The purpose of the game is to build and be creative at the same time, although you don’t have to do this you could simply spend your time fishing, hunting or mining and many other different things. You need to download the game onto your PC, or a version to play on your Xbox or mobile phone. We recommend the computer version – the updates are faster and there are more items and more ways to have fun.
You need to create an account – try and think of something you can remember and using a strong password is important. Try and think of a creative name that doesn’t need numbers if you can. Before you get started look at the controls – on the home screen, click on ‘options’ and then ‘controls’. You can familiarise yourself with the controls, or customise them if you like. If you forget you can take a look while you are playing. The default controls will be familiar to anyone who regularly plays games.
To get started, select ‘single player’ from the main menu. Then select create new world. It’s best to get start with ‘creative mode’ – you can select this on the single player menu. Then select ‘create new world’. You character will spawn (appear in the world) in a random location in the Minecraft world. You might see forests, deserts, plains, swamp land, jungle, or ice plains - there are many type of landscape. The game defaults to first person point of view (POV) so it will look like you are seeing out of your own eyes in the game.
In creative mode you can run, walk, fly and swim (technically jumping in the water) and explore your environment. Creative basically lets you be creative, you can get whatever you want and then just build very easily, this can also be very fun because you can spawn all the mobs in the game and fight them at your will. When you have finished looking around, press the ‘e’ button to bring up an available items menu. This includes all the blocks you need to build and survive, and also blocks with a range of different qualities. Put blocks into your inventory to use them. You can place them in the world by right clicking. In creative mode you can get whatever you want and then just build very easily, this can also be a lot of fun.
Blocks are what the Minecraft world are made of. There are many types of blocks – some blocks are only used for building (houses, shelters, walls), others have particular qualities. Soul sand blocks for example will slow you down if you try to walk across them. Other blocks, like glowstone, will light up the area they are in. In creative mode, you don’t have to make items or blocks – you just select them by clicking the e button.
In survival mode you have to work harder. Some blocks can be combined with other blocks to make items. Some blocks can be used to make components that can be used to make other items. Some blocks can be obtained by breaking them with your fist, however some harder materials such as diamond will require you to make a iron pickaxe to obtain them, to make one mine iron and coal, mix them in a furnace and then make an iron pickaxe to mine the diamonds.
Also experiment with blocks – for example putting a redstone torch (an inventory item you make from other items) near TNT will cause an explosion, which will destroy most blocks in the area. You really need to find out for yourself how to make items from blocks, but you can ask people who play the game. Learning how to make new blocks and blow things up is part of the fun.
A day and night cycle in Minecraft is 24 minutes – each minute represents one hour. Going into sleep mode will speed up the night time.
Mobs are living creatures in the game – for example chickens, creepers, squids, and witches. They spawn in random locations – unless you turn the game mode to peaceful, they will just turn up. Some of these are friendly, and some are hostile. Hostile mobs – including creepers, zombies, skeletons and enderman tend to spawn at night time. In creative mode mobs cannot hurt you, although they may attack you.
As well as creative mode, there is Survival mode. clearly from the name, you basically have to survive without being given anything to start with. This mode is here for playing the game in a challenging way. In survival mode you are encouraged to make a house and to find resources that will help you defend your self or you will die. You also must find a sustainable way of getting food so you don’t starve.
Hostile mobs will harm you in survival mode – some will hit you, fire missiles such as arrows or poison potions, some will even explode next to you. You start with 10 hearts – hearts represent how healthy you are - and being hit will deplete your hearts. You can increase your health by taking health potion. If you lose all your health your character will die – you will respawn in another random location, with full health but all of the items you were carrying in your inventory will remain in the place you died and you can only recover them by collecting them from there. Which is a big pain.
You can play in creative or survival mode as a single player, or when you are more confident, you can play in multiplayer mode. This means you play alongside other people who are online as well. In multiplayer you can fight against others, or work with them to build.
We play on an online server called citywars We have built a city, and we run it with other players who are city leaders. Everyone has jobs and roles in the city, for example, miners, police officers, hunters, priests. People trade, get taxed, create laws, develop their characters. You can build your own home in a city, and develop your skills, and attack other cities.
A lively round of questions followed the talk, including debates on the best elements and the worst Mob. There were convincing arguments made from the floor for creepers and witches as the most dangerous foe, but the casting vote from the floor went to 'parents who make you get off the computer'.
As well as computer based activities, we had a papercraft room for people to cut and paste together their own Minecraft mini figures - including this amazing Minecraft chess set!
The Ultimate Guide to Minecraft Papercraft! from Instructables
Minecraft Papercraft Chess from Pixel Paper Craft
The Standardized Papercraft from Minecraft Forums
For more activity ideas, check out this Minecraft Birthday Party post from Cupcake Stand, or search Pinterest for 'Minecraft Birthday Party'.
Minecraft Raspberry Pi
Artist/Researcher Sean Clark brought along a Raspberry Pi computer to demo Minecraft: Pi Edition, and also presented his Etch-a-Pi project - a Raspberry Pi controlled Etch-a-Sketch. If you are currently using Raspberry Pi computers or interested in finding out more, why not join the Leicester Raspberry Pi Users Group?
Find out how to use Minecraft Pi - check out this tutorial on getting started from Martin O'Hanlon.
Minecraft Creative Competition
Minecraft is a fantastic environment to create in. Our first competition of the day provided an opportunity for attendees to show off their creative skills. 50 young people created structures in only 15 minutes in Minecraft - including a reproduction of the Colosseum! Joseph, Luke and Johnny (all of who spend far too much time building in Minecraft) judged the competition, awarding points for imagination, skill, and build aesthetics.
First place went to Marcus Tilley (15), with runners up awards being made to Bluebell (5) and Ben Robin (7 and a half). Congratulations to the winners!
Dr. Stephen Vickers, research fellow at De Montfort University's Center for Computational Intelligence demonstrated eyetracker software for Minecraft. The MeyeNCRAFT project was developed for players with disabilities which prevent them from being able to use a mouse or keyboard, and lets users explore Minecraft or other games using only eye movements. Meetup visitors were able to have a go at playing Minecraft with their eyes!
Minecraft PvP Competition
"Who's still alive?"
40 contestants battled Hunger Games style in our Player vs. Player melee. Players spawn without any equipment, and must find supplies, weapons and armour to enable them to be the last player standing. Luke Pillai (12) won the title of event PvP Champion.
Secondary school teacher Stephen Elford (EduElfie) Skyped in to the event from Australia to talk about how he uses Minecraft in his classroom. You can check out EduElfie’s MinecraftEDU Youtube channel for video tutorials.
MinecraftEdu is a great resource for teachers and schools looking to make use of the power of Minecraft in the classroom, and offers discounted MinecraftEdu licences for educational use. You can find information, tutorials and resources over at the MinecraftEdu wiki.
Bond University used Minecraft as a teaching environment following floods - their campus was closed so they decamped to an online classroom.
Leicester Lo-fi brought their Origami Pinhole Kits along to the event, so attendees could make their own low tech cameras, take photos and develop them.
Huge thanks to everyone who made the day happen!
As well as being a lot of fun, there was a huge amount of hard work and planning that went into the day.
First and foremost we want to thank all of the young people who came along. Everyone was brilliant, and the event wouldn't have run as smoothly as it did without all of the peer support that went on - young people helping out other young people.
Chris Slowe is Project Coordinator at LCB Depot and runs Club Club. The hugely successful Minecraft Meetup was Club Club's inaugural event - you can find out more about Club Club over at their Facebook page.
Joseph, Luke and Johnny wrote and gave the introductory talk, judged the build competition and helped other young people out all day. They also helped us carry the computers!
The Leicester City Council Building Schools for the Future ICT Team (Lucy Atkins, David Beere, and me, Josie Fraser) all helped out. We provided the papercraft, organised and set up the computers, ran the competitions and roped other people in :)
Dr Stephen Vickers organised and did more than there is space to list! Special thanks for making sure there was a Minecraft environment to run the competitions in, for demoing the MeyeNCRAFT project, and for organising the MinecraftEdu talk.
Capita Managed IT Solutions helped with the loan of computers (essential!) which were kindly loaned to the event by Rushey Mead School.
David Croft, from the DMU Gaming Society: Demon Gamers helped out tremendously, especially with the PvP competition.
Steve Lynch and David Wilson Clarke from the Leicester Lo-fi Photography group ran the pinhole camera workshop.
Plus thanks to Steph Knowles, artist and workshop leader, who managed the papercraft room and Khush Nubian, artist, who helped out with registration.