Minecraft Servers – What are they?

Well, this is something I’ve had to find out about since our visit to Insomnia 57 last weekend. While we were at the show HopperBoy had a lot of fun playing on various mini-games at the Hypixel stand – Sky Wars, Build Battle and Simon Says were among the favourites that we’ve seen various YouTubers play from iBallistic Squid to Dan TDM. So far, I’d not really paid enough attention as to how you actually got on to some of these mini-games, thinking it would be via mods (which we’ll cover another time) and would be rather tricky.

HypixelThe Hypixel stand had rows of computers set up in groups of 8 that put everyone into their own very special versions of the popular mini-games against the players sat around them. It was really well managed with co-ordinators filling the missing seats and games running all the time. Definitely recommend a visit, if you’re considering going to Insomnia 58 in the summer.

You can find out more about Hypixel on their YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/user/Hypixel

Anyway, as it turns out – it’s really very easy to join these server-based mini-games from inside your existing Minecraft game, just type in a link and join up! (I’m talking about PC/Mac version here – not sure that Xbox, Playstation or Minecraft PE have these options readily available yet). And, if your child has already spent some time playing Minecraft on their own — or with other family members in my case — chances are, they will soon be ready to play with others online.

From what I’ve seen so far, a lot of the servers feature huge, pre-built worlds, that have everything from amazing cities and buildings to transport networks and, most importantly it seems, mini-games for your kid to explore and enjoy with other like-minded players.

The other thing that is good with server play is that a lot of the servers have plug-ins, which allow for a whole range of extra Minecraft gameplay features, including money systems, jobs, role-playing elements and mini-challenges. To access these features, you don’t need to modify your Minecraft game at all (unlike adding mods to your own Minecraft games, which have to be compatible with the version of the game you’re running, etc.) as they are all built in to the server and available as soon as you log in to the game.

Playing Minecraft on a public server can take the game to a whole new level for young players and will likely be their first foray into online gaming, which for parents is probably the biggest hurdle: how safe are these public servers?

We all worry about bad language, bullying and online predators, and of course, no public server is 100% safe, however, there are a number of servers that we’ve now discovered that cater specifically for kids and families, with active moderators (Mods of a different type) who help players learn to play the games and ensure rules are followed, as well as in-built filters to monitor bad language, etc.

(If this is still a concern and you’d rather set up a completely private server for your kid and their close friends, you check out the recently released Minecraft Realms direct from Mojang, which allows you to easily host a private world).

See related posts on ‘Minecraft Servers’ here, for more information and how to use them.

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It started with Insomnia…

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Funnily enough, it wasn’t the normal kind of child-induced insomnia you expect as a parent…instead it was Insomnia 57 at Birmingham NEC “the UK’s Biggest Gaming Festival” that got this whole thing started.

Over the past three years, since HopperBoy got an iPad at Christmas we’ve gradually been pulled further and further into the gaming world that kids experience today: You Tubers, servers, mods and more… It’s a lot to take in, especially if you’re trying to get your head around it in the middle of handling your day-job, doing school runs and keeping on top of all the other domestic joys that get thrown at you.

So, whilst HopperBoy likes making his own videos and talking to himself like a YouTuber no matter what game he’s playing, I started the blog to share my travels along the gaming highway with him – because Google has become my new best friend in mastering the skills needed to download mods and play server-based games, all the while, trying to make sure that what you’re doing is safe and suitable. There are lots of fantastic parent-help websites around, for many of the games we play – certainly a lot more in-depth than what I’ll do here. This blog is intended to be a quick-fix for ideas on games, reviews from a kid and a parent to help you decide if the games are for you, and to share the bits of knowledge I come across that may be helpful to share.