Learning to Code with Minecraft

Hi All-

Being a software engineer I naturally like the idea of my kids pursuing my career path.  I think that is a natural feeling to have, as long as it is done in a healthy way.  It doesn’t make sense to push your kids to do things they don’t want to do, because they will only learn to hate the very things you are hoping that they will love.  But if your kids do show an interest you want to give them the best possible chance to pursue their dreams.  Lately my boys have been showing an interest in learning computer programming and the question became for me was what was the best way to foster this interest.   There are plenty of online coding websites for kids, and even a few apps.  But they have showed limited interest when I presented these tools to them.

Enter Minecraft.  I am sure you have heard of Minecraft. If not, what rock have you been living under?  Haha.  Did you know that Minecraft can be pretty easily extended by your kids to, well, do things that the original authors of Minecraft did not necessarily intend the game to do?  This is called “mod’ing” (mod is short for modifying” ) the game and it requires that your kids run a custom server on your Home Network that supports a mod’ing interface.  A very easy to install “mod” server is called “SpigotMC” and you can find the server at:

https://www.spigotmc.org/

Here is how you install it on Windows:

https://www.spigotmc.org/wiki/windows-installation/

And on Apple:

https://www.spigotmc.org/wiki/mac-osx-installation/

The install isn’t that hard, just follow the directions exactly.  Once this done your kids can connect to this Mod’d server.  You may not know how to do this, but I bet they do!

SpigotMC comes pre-configured to use ScriptCraft.  Scriptcraft allows your children to easily modify Minecraft by writing Javascript.   You can learn more about Scriptcraft at this link:

https://scriptcraftjs.org/

Every web page in the world uses Javascript so it isn’t a bad language for them to learn!  Trust me there are currently 1000’s of open Javascript Programming jobs in our country.  And they pay isn’t too shabby!

SpigotMC also supports other programming interfaces like Java, in fact the entire Minecraft game is written in Java.  But I think that it is is easiest for them to start modifying the game using Javascript because Scriptcraft basically lets them plug their code right into the game without a lot of extra steps to get things working.  Remember you don’t have to install Scriptcraft, SpigotMC comes preconfigured to use it.  In the programming world the first program you always write when learning a new language or platform is called “Hello World.”   You can find a simple tutorial for your a Scriptcraft “Hello World” program at this link:

Hello World in Minecraft with Scriptcraft

This might all seem a little daunting, but once it is setup your kids will take the ball and run with it.  Trust me.  It won’t be long before you are amazed at what they are creating in their Minecraft world.  And hey, they are playing Minecraft anyway, why not turn it into a learning experience?

Like this Blog Post?  Let me know and I will follow up with more on this topic.  Questions?  Let me know and I will see if I can help.

BTW, this video link might be pretty helpful to you if you are more visually oriented:

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