The Minecraft Guide for Parents: Getting Started
Minecraft is very easy to purchase. You can buy it online from the Mojang website, or you can go directly to Minecraft.net and buy it there (both end up in the same place, but the Minecraft.net route eliminates several steps). Alternatively, you can buy a gift card, available at many retailers, and then use it to purchase your game. You can also buy a Minecraft account for another person and have it emailed to them, or it can be sent to you so you can gift it directly (Figure 4.1). We’ll walk through the entire process.
Figure 4.1 There are many ways to purchase Minecraft.
Things to Consider Before You Buy
Before you purchase your account, there are some things you need to take into consideration, such as for whom you are purchasing the account, what access they will have, and how many individual accounts you’d like to get. The number of accounts is important, because once a single user has begun to invest in their Minecraft experience, they are unlikely to want anyone else to manipulate their account and, by extension, their Minecraft worlds. You also need to decide on a username, something that requires some forethought.
If multiple players are going to be playing, either they can share an account (and therefore won’t be able to play at the same time) or they each need their own account. Although you can create endless saved maps, you can play as only one character. If at all possible, buy a separate account for each player in your family. That way, everyone has their own identity.
Remember that single-player maps are saved to the computer they are played on, and therefore anyone logging on to that computer can access them. This means that individual accounts won’t necessarily stop your children from interfering with each other’s work. It’s a good idea to establish clear house rules and consequences (see Chapter 3, “Fitting Minecraft Fit into Family”).
Having separate accounts becomes more important when playing on a server, because it is confusing to others on the server if the person behind the username is constantly shifting. For instance, if Wrednax and I were to share an account, it would cause many challenges beyond not being able to play at the same time. We have very different interests when we play—he is much more interested in PVP than I am, and I tend to be the server “mom,” sharing resources and helping new players get settled. If we had one account, other players wouldn’t know which of us was logged on unless we clarified each time someone new joined, which could be confusing (and tedious). And if we were playing on a server that uses the Towny plugin (a special modification), we’d really have challenges. Towny lets players create and join towns, and it blocks other players from building or breaking blocks in those towns, which is valuable in terms of protecting your materials. Were we to share a username on the Rawcritics PVP map, however, only one of us could join the town of our choosing, because players can be members of only one town. And since Wrednax is mayor of a PVP town and I’m a member of the only neutral town on the server, that could cause challenges. On other servers, there would be the potential for similar challenges, perhaps with different plugins.
If you are uncertain whether your children will play Minecraft, or you’d just like to try it first, then a shared account will work, particularly if they are just playing on single-player maps. If you take this route, make sure you create a username that will fit your child or yourself, because usernames cannot be changed.
Selecting a Username
Although Mojang has said on its site that you might be able to change your username in the future, it is not possible at this time. So put thought and care into selecting one. With over 10 million games sold, picking a good, unique username can be a challenge.
You won’t know if a name has been used before you try it during the registration process, so you should have a few names prepared. Otherwise, you might find yourself hastily selecting something you or your child will regret.
When you’re playing a single-player game at home or on a private server where you know all the players, your username doesn’t really matter much. You could use your real name, and it would be fine. But as soon as you start playing with other people on public servers, privacy becomes much more important. For example, a personal name like Cori_Dusmann, or even CDusmann, would be too revealing, particularly for a child. Even using your child’s first name might make you uncomfortable, and it is fairly uncommon to see proper names as usernames.
There are many nicknames and choices available, but you may need to be creative. Wrednax is Xander’s name spelled backward—the W is the first letter of his last name. People occasionally figure it out, but there is nothing else revealing about it, so I was fine with his choice. It’s been a good one, because it is short, simple, and easy to remember.
If you’re concerned about your child being identified by gender, be sure to pick a gender-neutral name. Although it’s beginning to change, girl gamers have traditionally had a harder time gaining respect. I’ve had few problems on Rawcritics, and the Minecraft realm is actually very open and unbiased (relatively speaking). On less family-friendly servers, though, I’ve occasionally had to ward off unwanted attention and have at times wished I’d chosen a less obviously feminine name.
Keep it Short
Keep usernames short, especially for younger children. Choose something that your child will remember and be able to spell easily. Short usernames are also helpful in that other players can talk to you without doing a lot of writing. For example, when you send someone a private message on a server, you need to enter their full username. Make it easy for others to communicate with you or your children, and select a shorter name. Also, many commands and actions require the entry of your name and sometimes multiple names. For example, the teleport command usually requires the entry of two names. And even with short names, players will probably shorten them further: Wrednax is usually called Wred, I’m known as Whimsey or Whims, and I’m lazy enough to shorten a friend’s four-letter username to the first letter, J.
Keep it Simple
Usernames can be clever and descriptive, and they can express something about the individual. Keep it simple and easy to remember. Long strings of letters or words can be hard to remember, and even if they have meaning to the user, other players may not bother with messaging.
Be sure that the name when shortened is acceptable to you and your child, because chances are high that your name will be with you for a very long time.
Have fun creating a username. Putting two semi-random words together can result in a fun, easy, and unique name. An adjective and a noun, or a noun and a verb, can work well together. For example, PowerPop, AquaBlue, or GiddyFrog, which might be nicknamed (or nicked, in game language) either Giddy or Frog. Names can be playful or serious, witty or goofy.
Using an underscore (_) or spare letters can help make the name unique but still easy to remember, for example, Fruity_Galore. Some players use X or Xx to bracket their names; for instance, XxWhimseysgirlxX.
One way to generate some name ideas is to write down a list of adjectives and a list of nouns with your kids. Cut them out and put them in separate bags. Take turns drawing to create names, and make a list of the top ones. Remember that it’s always good to have a few names when you start to make an account, in case your preferred name is taken.
Choose a Name that will Last
Although Mojang has said they’re working on a way to allow players to change usernames, it may not happen for a long time. Help your children, especially younger ones, select a name that they can be happy with longterm. If they make friendships outside the game, they may still be identified as that username, so it’s important to select one that actually represents them. I often call Xander Wred, and he calls me Whims—our usernames have just become nicknames.
Creating a Password
To sign in to Minecraft, you will be using a username or the email address linked to the account, as well as a password. It is important to create a password that combines letters and numbers and that is not simple to guess or too short. Create a password solely for your Mojang account, especially if children are going to be logging in on their own, because you cannot know how secure they might keep that password. Pick something that is not obvious or easily figured out—if you need it to be easy to remember, make it personal to you, but don’t use birthdays, your address, your phone number, or anything that can be easily guessed.