Minecraft for Children
9 November 2022 - ~6 Minutes Misc
Cover image credit: ThePigott3
Minecraft can be a fun game for young children, but not when there’s monsters in the dark. Here’s how to set up Minecraft games just for fun and creativity, without the scary stuff.
I introduced my daughter to Minecraft when she was about 5 years old. The big, colourful, blocks, space to explore, and block-like animals were a big hit with her! As her fine motor skills improved she became very adept at controlling her character and building ever bigger structures.
But for her to feel comfortable using it, it couldn’t be scary. This meant that survival mode - in which her character could die in many different ways - was right out, and a number of other settings needed to be tweaked so that we could concentrate just on building and having fun. Here’s how we did it.
I won’t cover here how to buy and install Minecraft, or to use the Minecraft Launcher - I’ll assume you have bought Minecraft and are able to start it. I’ll also be assuming the Java edition of Minecraft - although Bedrock Edition is likely to be very similar, there may be changes and since I don’t own that edition I can’t check these instructions against it.
Start a new Single Player game in Minecraft.
The very first thing you should do is change the Game Mode. We don’t want Survival, and definitely not Hardcode - set Game Mode: Creative. This puts Minecraft into a Lego-building like world: the player can create and destroy almost any type of block with no limits. There’s virtually no ways to die, there’s no health or hunger counters, and the player can fly!
The next setting to change is the Difficulty. Set Difficulty: Peaceful. This prevents hostile mobs (monsters, basically) from appearing in the game.
It’s also worth setting Allow Cheats: ON to allow you to change some game settings whilst playing.
Next, go into Game Rules and make these changes:
- Respawn Immediately: ON. In the unlikely event your player “dies” (see below), the player will immediately return to the game.
- Deal drowning/fall/fire/freezing damage: OFF. These shouldn’t have an effect in creative mode but let’s turn them off to be sure.
- Keep inventory after death: ON. In the unlikely event your player “dies” (see below), the player will immediately return to the game with everything that was in their hands before.
- Advance time of day - optional. When this is on, there is a day and night cycle. You can skip the night cycle by placing a bed and right-clicking on it - your player will then sleep till morning. If you don’t want to bother with this, switch it off and it will be permanently day time.
- Update fire - optional. Lava and other things can start fires. With this ON, fire can spread for a period, and could set fire to structures your player has built. I’ve not seen this much in practice, but you can turn this off if you want to be sure that your player’s treehouse doesn’t accidentally get destroyed in fire.
- Update weather: OFF. Weather changes between clear, rain and thunder. If you’re being creative then rainy weather ruins the experience slightly (although rain falls as snow in icy environments which is nice to look at!) Worse still, thunder can cause lightning which can cause fires. All in all, best to switch this off.
There’s also some interesting settings under More World Options:
- Seed for the world generator. Pick a word, phrase or number. The seed is the basis of all the pseudo-random world building that Minecraft does. The same seed entered on the same version of Minecraft will produce the same world - so it’s nice to pick a seed, and if it produces a nice world, keep a note of it - you can then build the same world again if you want to start again, or share it with your friends.
- Generate Structures - optional. When ON, interesting structures such as temples, ruined pirate ships, mineshafts and even mansions can occasionally be found, which adds some interest to the game. It’ll also cause villages to be generated, where you’ll meet villagers and their iron golem (see below).
- World Type - if you want to go into a specific world type, such as a beach world or a snowy world, set this to Single Biome and make your choice. However I think it’s better to leave this as default - it’ll be random what type of biome you land in, and if you don’t like it, then just start flying and move around - there’ll be more biomes a short distance away.
The only scary things
The above settings mean that your player is very unlikely to encounter any scary scenarios. However a very small number of them do still exist. Here are the ones I’ve found:
- The only way your player can die is if they fall into the void below the ground. If your player digs a hole and keeps digging, eventually they will hit the bottom of the world, and fall through. This “kills” the player, although they will immediately regenerate, normally back at the last place the player slept.
- While your player is virtually indestructable, animals and villagers are not. If you hit them with the left mouse button they will get hurt - this will cause them to flash red and then maybe run away from you. They won’t attack you back but it can still be distressing to see your player’s pet cat get hurt, even if only for a moment.
- Worse still is that if an animal or villager gets stuck in deep water or lava, they can be killed. So if you have an animal on a lead, make sure to keep away from lava and from deep water. Also avoid flying while you have an animal on a lead - the animal will hang from the lead below you, and an accidental drop could kill the animal.
- Villages usually have an iron golem. This looks monster-like but is actually harmless. This looked a bit scary to my daughter the first time we saw one, but I described it as the villager’s robot to do work and that came across as less scary.
- Not scary as such, but a bit spooky: sometimes you get a structure that is an abandoned village. It’s a bit spooky seeing a cobweb-filled village with dirty glass windows, missing doors and no villagers, but it is otherwise harmless.
With these settings you’ll be able to create a peaceful world where you can simply have fun building, exploring, keeping pets and farm animals, and more.
About the author
Richard Downer is a software engineer turned cloud solutions architect, specialising in AWS, and based in Scotland. Richard's interest in technology extends to retro computing and amateur hardware hacking with Raspberry Pi and FPGA.