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A Brief Guide to Minecraft

Minecraft: The Exhibition has left The Children's Museum. You can find all of our current exhibits here.

Do you know a child who is super-excited about the arrival of Minecraft: The Exhibition? We know we’re sure excited at The Children’s Museum. We cannot wait to share this phenomenal experience with you. An exhibit about the world’s best-selling video game at the world’s biggest children’s museum just makes sense, doesn’t it? Yeah, we think so, too.

We realize for many grown-ups, Minecraft is a completely foreign concept. The idea of visiting an exhibition dedicated to the video game might sound a little intimidating.

Don’t worry.

We’re here to help.

There’s plenty of information in the exhibit that will help a person with even limited knowledge about Minecraft leave with a basic understanding of the game. And part of the beauty of an exhibit like this is that you can discover the Minecraft phenomenon together. Shoot, you might even learn something from the younger generations. Stranger things have happened.

In order to help you enter Minecraft: The Exhibition with a running start, we’ve assembled a brief guide to the building blocks of the video game—a sort of bare-bones Minecraft 101, if you will.

Minecraft is what you make it

Seriously. It’s that simple. You can play Minecraft on a personal computer, a laptop, a tablet, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, PS4, and even on your phone. It’s what they call a sandbox game. But what does that mean? Well, what do you do in a sandbox? You build sandcastles, moats, and maybe even a giant sand sculpture, right? You use the elements around you to create whatever masterpiece you want!

That’s exactly what happens in Minecraft. But instead of sand, it’s a world of blocks. From those blocks, you gather resources. With those resources, you can follow recipes to create other items. Much like in cooking, a recipe provides the ingredients and instructions necessary to convert your resources into usable objects. 

For example, a sword is a pretty important piece of equipment to have. There are many different types of swords you can create, like iron, gold, and diamond, for example. And who doesn’t want a diamond sword?

In order to create a sword, you need to gather certain resources listed in the recipe. Once you’ve gathered them, you can make your sword by using your crafting table. To craft an iron sword, you’ll need to gather a stick and two iron ingots. What’s an ingot? It's the basic unit of metal available in the game. A gold sword requires a stick and two gold ingots. And a diamond sword requires a stick and—you guessed it—two diamonds. And again, we ask—who doesn’t want a diamond sword?

Crafted items can also be combined with other materials to make even craftier things. Crafting is a web of recipes for making more and more sophisticated items, from simple stone tools to, say, a brewing stand for making magic potions.

With the resources you gather and the objects you create, you can build whatever masterpiece your heart desires. You could build towns. Or space ports. Or a working computer. Who knows? You might even be inspired to create your own children’s museum.

Image credit: Bolinsleftkidney

It could take years to perfect your creation. Fortunately, a day in Minecraft only takes 10 minutes in the physical world.

Minecraft is literally whatever you make it. There are no rules. The opportunities are limitless!

Steve and Alex

Until recently, Steve and Alex were the first player skins that were available when you started your Minecraft adventure.

What’s a skin? Glad you asked. A skin is your avatar. Skins are representations of you in Minecraft, because you are embarking on a creative adventure.

Steve has dark hair. Alex has bright orange hair and was the second player skin added to Minecraft. Mojang recently added seven more default player skins for you to choose from—Noor, Sunny, Ari, Zuri, Makena, Kai, and Efe—adding even more diverse choices for your avatar! 

Game modes

There are two primary game modes in Minecraft: Survival and Creative.

In Survival mode, hostile monsters, also called mobs (mobile non-player characters—see “What’s a mob?” below) show up, and they will attack you when you approach them. You need to stay safe, find food, craft tools, and begin building the world you want to live in. 

In Creative mode, every block is available for you to immediately start building your dreams. You can build your world in peace, without worrying about pesky things like running out of food or being attacked by mobs.

Other modes available include Adventure mode and Spectator mode, available in Minecraft Java. There are also different ways to play the game through accessing specific servers, modifications (a.k.a. “mods”), and content available in the Minecraft marketplace.

What’s a mob?

A mob gets its name from shortening the term “mobile entity.” It’s a mobile non-player character. Some are there to help you. For example, you can get wool and mutton from a sheep. Chickens provide meat, feathers, and eggs.

Other mobs, however, are hostile. They try to cause all sorts of havoc. The most popular mob is Creeper. They’re those green mobs that always have a frown on their face. Creepers delight in sneaking up behind players and exploding. That’s right, this creature blows up, and the blast might possibly destroy some of the constructions you’ve painstakingly built. And they can drop your player's health bar to zero!

Watch out for Creepers and other hostile mobs. Trust us.

Here are some of the mobs in Minecraft—what you can get from them:

  • Cow—gives you leather, raw beef, and milk.
  • Ender Dragon—you can get dragon eggs from them. But watch out—Ender Dragons are hostile.
  • Llama—gives leather, spit, and attitude.
  • Panda—you’ll receive bamboo, squeezes, and cuteness from these adorable mobs.
  • Skeleton—you can get bones, arrows, and pain. They’re hostile, too.
  • Spider—drops string when defeated. They also drop spider eyes, which can be used to brew potions.
  • Zombie—they give you punches. And cold, dead stares because they’re hostile mobs.

Other things you’ll want to know

What’s a biome?
A biome is an area of the Minecraft game world with particular terrain, plants, and animals. Some biomes are similar to those found in our world, such as plains, deserts, and jungles. Some are rather strange, such as mushroom fields or the chaotic shattered savanna. 

What’s PvP?
PvP is an abbreviation of “player versus player.” There are some parts of the game that allow competition between players, either in teams or one-on-one combat. During PvP, players can be injured. Players lose a PvP when their health bar drops to zero. Don't worry, though, your player does come back to life (it's called "respawning"). Unfortunately, if you do happen to be defeated in a PvP, you drop whatever items you were carrying in your inventory. The player who defeated you then claims those items. 

What’s spawning?
When a player or mob is created and placed in Minecraft, it’s called “spawning.” If a player happens to be defeated in the game, they will come back to life, either respawning where they originally arrived in the game or in the bed where they last slept before being defeated. 

What’s a Griefer?
A Griefer is a player who causes grief for other players by intentionally making them angry. Griefers wreak havoc by destroying things, choosing to build things in areas that inconvenience others, and by sowing discord among players. Griefing goes against the community spirit of Minecraft

Don’t be a Griefer.

Looking for more?

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Oh—did we mention you can build an iceberg in Minecraft? We weren’t joking when we said you can create whatever you want in this digital sandbox!

Here are a few more resources you can dig into as you explore the worldwide Minecraft phenomenon.

We hope this brief introduction to the building blocks of Minecraft has been a helpful resource and opened your eyes to the limitless opportunities the world’s best-selling video game offers. Of course, the best way to become familiar with Minecraft is by playing the game itself. Fortunately, you’ll have an opportunity to give the game a try when you visit Minecraft: The Exhibition during its stay at The Children’s Museum March 11–Aug. 6. It’s included with museum admission, so buy your tickets today!

Locally presented by F.A. Wilhelm Construction
Supported by OneAmerica

Minecraft: The Exhibition is organized by the Museum of Pop Culture in partnership with Mojang