Minecraft Coding for Kids—Tips, Courses & More

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Minecraft is cool, undoubtedly—even most parents can easily agree on that one! But what about the sandbox game’s educational, entrepreneurial, and overall long-term value for kids?

“I see the future of our youth and they are playing Minecraft.”

Now, this is a very old quote, and that’s why I’m including it. (It’s from author and entrepreneur, Joe Pulizzi, in an article posted on LinkedIn titled “Tomorrow’s Entrepreneurs Are Playing #Minecraft Today.”)

The article was published in 2013! And still today, years later, I agree. 

Why?

Because Minecraft is consistently among the most popular of our course genres.

But beyond that, it’s not just that kids are playing Minecraft. In fact, you can say the power of Minecraft only begins with a child sitting down to play it.

From there, their experiences can branch off into a number of different, valuable, and potentially lucrative streams. For instance,  some are creating Minecraft content for YouTube, while others are using Minecraft as a launching point into computer science, specifically.

Today, we are talking about the latter.

What is Minecraft coding?

Minecraft coding is using code to add personalized items and gameplay to Minecraft. For instance, coders can create their own blocks and even design unique adventure maps to share with friends. 

What coding language does Minecraft use? Java or JavaScript?

The coding language that Minecraft is Java (not to be confused with JavaScript). Thus, Java is the driving force when it comes to Minecraft coding. More specifically, Java is a powerful multi-platform programming language. It's used for a number of different commercial and professional applications, including Minecraft, but also Android applications and the Android operating system.

So, in addition to modding Minecraft, kids can use Java to make a wide range of games for people across the globe. All of this points to the fact that Java is among the best coding languages for kids.

Minecraft course examples

What's said above and below points to a very real and amazing process that easily and routinely unfolds for kids of today—games are not just simply games. Instead, games transform into gateways for kids to explore and do more than just "play," like wanting to jump into the world of computer science by learning to code.

And just as amazing, the ability to do these things is also present. Meaning, many organizations are ready and able when it comes to teaching coding to those kids who want to act on those curiosities.

So yes, those kids who want to take their love for Minecraft to the next level through coding can very much do so thanks to the coding courses and instruction available to them. Specifically, with Java, kids can learn things like how to create Minecraft mods to put their very own spin on the game.

Here are a few examples of the different Minecraft coding programs for kids, with which kids can started today:

Minecraft World Designer

Minecraft World Designer is a course where students learn to create resource packs to re-skin their blocks and items, and also learn to build redstone circuits and machines, along with implementing command blocks to take maps to the next level.

Minecraft Adventure Design

Older kids can experience much of the same in Minecraft Adventure Design or through an Online Private Lesson with Minecraft Game Design. With newfound planning and design skills, kids can visually alter the world Minecraft players see in order to create brand new experiences that are both exciting and memorable. 

Minecraft Modding with Java

And then there is Minecraft Modding with Java Coding—a course available to teach coding to kids and teens through variables, functions, and control structures. The overall idea is customize Minecraft adventure maps and mods through the use of Java.

Minecraft Monster Arena

Monstrous skeletons, anyone? New challenges, new creatures, new weapons, and more! Kids can get their fill of modding knowledge and then create custom entities and projectiles. How? With Java coding, functions and classes help participants modify the familiar Minecraft world on their way to creating something truly unique. 

Minecraft coding terms

Before getting going, though, there are a number of terms and coding concepts young coders should begin to familiarize themselves with—here are a few to get started.

Minecraft mod

Simply, Minecraft mods allow creators to expand the game they already know and love and transform it to their own imagination! With mods, they can pretend they're a god with a rad hammer, teleport themselves across large bodies of water, mine bread from deposits, and more. 

Minecraft artificial intelligence

Each type of mob in Minecraft has an AI system with different behaviors and mechanics. For instance, passive mobs will flee in random directions after being hurt, while hostile mobs will face and chase the player as soon as they come close. (And when that happens, here are some tips on killing Minecraft mobs.)

Event systems

In almost every game played, including Minecraft, there is an event system, which keeps track of what's happening in the game world and, when triggered, run some code when certain conditions are met.

Spawning entities 

Entities spawn naturally in the game. Depending on certain variables, they spawn in varying frequencies and pack sizes. Using forge, coders can add mobs to the enemies that can naturally spawn in Minecraft. (Read more facts about Minecraft.)

Biomes

Each chunk in a Minecraft world has a biome. Biomes determine things like snowfall, which blocks appear, and the types/amount of vegetation.

Attributes

An Attribute controls a property of a mob. Modifying attributes allows you to alter or set specific characteristics of mobs.

Java coding concepts

To get you and your child thinking about Java and Minecraft, here are a few basic definitions:

Variable

A variable stores information about a program while it's running. In Minecraft, the names of the items and blocks are stored in variables.

Strings

A string is used to store text; for example, "carrot," "apple pie," "pear," and "orange juice" are all strings. A string can be declared in Java by typing "string" followed by the variable name.

Printing

Printing in a programming language refers to putting text into a console. With Minecraft coding, kids might have noticed a bunch of text flying by in IntelliJ's console each time they start their Minecraft mods. This information is produced by printing to the console.

Main function

A main function is where most of the code will run.

Operator

Operators allow coders to perform calculations while the program is running. When a character in Minecraft earns experience, it needs to be added to their total. If an arrow hits an enemy, the damage the enemy takes needs to be subtracted.

Pascal case

Java uses Pascal case, which is a subset of camel case convention, for naming classes. The class should start with a capital letter and each word in the name should also be capitalized. For example: "MyClassName" and "AdventureGame."

If statement

An if statement allows coders to execute code if some condition is met. When a player attacks a monster in Minecraft, code is executed to see if it's been defeated.

There are of course a number of coding terms and definitions, and much more to be learned when it comes to Java for kids. But for now, it's helpful to connect these ideas with the impact they have on the game itself, so that kids can start drawing connections between what they can do with coding, and how those actions impact gameplay.

How does a child learn to code through Java and Minecraft?

One unique aspect of Minecraft when it was first released, and even still today, is how customizable it can be. With that, one popular way to customize the game is through Minecraft mods, or modding, which explained above, is altering the original programming code of the game.

These mods are add-ons built by third parties (often the kids themselves) to enhance the game. Designing mods involves learning Java, as and developing skills like debugging, revision control, and utilizing Photoshop.

Importance of Minecraft

There's an entire community built around Minecraft—insanely dedicated players and modders. There are hundreds of texture packs, game modifications, custom maps, skins; just about anything a player could want to customize the game.

Sites are devoted to everything from free gameplay servers (learn how to make and host a Minecraft server) to streams of people currently playing the game to how to fabricate simple machines. 

But all told, in addition to coding and playing, Minecraft still has a number of educational benefits just waiting to be explored, and has evolved from an indie game into an artistic tool for communities to come together and create. Whether the project is artistic, story-based or a logic-centered machine, players of all ages can find pleasure within the halls of Minecraft.

Check out our Minecraft coding classes for a more personalized learning experience, but entertainment as well. 

A photo of Ryan

Ryan manages blog content at iD Tech, starting with the company in 2008. He earned his MBA from Santa Clara University after obtaining his Bachelor’s degree from Arizona State. Connect on LinkedIn!

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