Bring your laptops, set up a server: Is your kid having a Minecraft party?

My 9-year-old was recently invited to a Minecraft party. We were instructed to bring a laptop and show up for an afternoon of six little boys sitting in a room interacting in computer world they created.

Minecraft is a massively multiplayer game played on a large server where adults and kids can design almost any world they can imagine. The catch is they are on with adults.

So one of the dads at the party set up a separate VPN for the kids to play on together. (Can they just play soccer or swim?) They were on a private server so we didn’t have to worry about weirdos messing with them. However, the software used to set up the server downloaded a bunch of viruses onto our computer!

I knew Minecraft was big in my little guy’s world but I was surprised less than a week later to see a friend post a photo of an almost identical scene at his home. Boys and girls alike gathered with their laptops in a family room playing Minecraft.

I wrote to the friend and asked him how they had it set up and he said they were just playing on the public server not a private one. So we’re still trying to figure out how to set that up without getting viruses. If anyone knows, please tell us.

Are your kids playing Minecraft at home? Are they playing on the big server with other kids? Have you set up a private server? If so, how and using what sites?

Are they throwing Minecraft parties? Are you worried about them playing with adults on the main servers?

58 comments Add your comment

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Andrew

May 14th, 2012
4:46 am

Clearly to play minecraft they either downloaded an illegal free copy to play on. The server wouldn’t have ever been an issue because you CANNOT send files to players on a server. Next time buy the game instead of illegally pirating it.

shaggy

May 14th, 2012
7:06 am

Yeah, this beats getting outside, pretending to be dinosaurs, or astronauts, and otherwise creating their own fantasy world in their heads, like only little 9 year old boys can. NOT!

I guess the computer has a better imagination, right?

Let’s just say that my boy would rather spend a day with his friends in the North Georgia mountains, exploring creeks than this crap, and I am VERY happy about that.

catlady

May 14th, 2012
7:07 am

OH MY GOD!

I know, let’s have real kids playing real games and interacting with real language, really face to face!

mom2alex&max

May 14th, 2012
7:13 am

This doesn’t sound too different from the game buses that are becoming popular around here. The bus comes and parks on your driveway and 8 to 10 boys climb on it and play video games non stop for 2 hours. There are no windows, no clocks, no outside stimuli. Like in Vegas. They come out of it catatonic. I hate it. But of course, they love it.

motherjanegoose

May 14th, 2012
7:41 am

Makes me happy we did not have laptops when mine were that age. We had one PC ofr our family.

motherjanegoose

May 14th, 2012
7:42 am

Rocksteady

May 14th, 2012
7:54 am

Here, just go to the official minecraft site, go to downloads, and click Minecraft server. You can’t do many plugins (right now) but its the official program.

A

May 14th, 2012
7:59 am

Funny, I have a 9-year-old boy, am myself a big scifi/fantasy fan, and have never heard of Minecraft. I’m not a gamer, so that may explain it. However if we were ever asked to bring a laptop to a kids party and have it used there, I would give a resounding no. I use my laptop for work and would not risk viruses or anything for a silly game. As someone else said, just let the kids swim and be kids.

catlady

May 14th, 2012
8:09 am

Thank you, Shaggy!

Augusta

May 14th, 2012
8:21 am

I would have to politely decline. First and foremost, my boys are not gamers. And they LOVE being outdoors. I doubt they would want to go to a “party” such as this.

Secondly, I’m not sending a laptop to a party for a bunch of 9 year old boys.

Techmom

May 14th, 2012
8:34 am

Good luck getting the viruses and adware off your computer TWG!

I heard someone mention this game last week and it was the first I’d heard of it… odd considering how many middle & high school kids I talk to each week. I find it amusing that a very “pixelated” game is so popular when the graphics for most video games is nearing life like. Anyway, just took a look at it; the full computer version is $26.95… not bad considering most video games are $40-50 but also considering those games are developed by big companies and have multiple developers working to support them means in reality this game should cost about $5.95… and as it turns out, the iPhone version is $6.99 (you can try the “Lite” version for free). I’m further surprised that kids are playing on laptops vs. handheld devices. So many kids have iPod Touches and tablets, that’s where I would think the market would be. I know my son dreads working on his laptop (and sending email!) vs. using his phone and has no interest in playing anything on a laptop.

Apparently this game was just released as well and is still heavily being developed. I’m sure one of the features will be the ability to connect and play with only your friends vs. having to setup a server. They can’t make it too complicated or costly or it just won’t stay popular.

☺☻Have A Smile!

May 14th, 2012
8:38 am

“They were on a private server so we didn’t have to worry about weirdos messing with them

Why does a comment like this always appear? When nothing bad yet has happened…

Maybe we should turn down the hysteria dial just a tad, yes?

JOD

May 14th, 2012
8:59 am

Never heard of it, and mercifully, DD is still too young. I thought the idea of a party or playdate was interaction with other kids, not interaction with other electronic devices?

usually lurking

May 14th, 2012
9:06 am

If they are in the same room together, they are interacting with each other in person as well as on the game. My son had a few Xbox birthday parties, where we linked up 6-8 xboxes. They had a blast! No, they are not stunted, anti-social youth, they enjoy many different activities.

Modern P. Arent

May 14th, 2012
9:51 am

I, for one, am thankful for this new craze. Not since pokemen have I been able to leave my kids unattended for long periods of time without them whining about being bored. I really cannot wait until they’re old and smart enough to figure out MMOs, because once I can leave them alone with World of Warcrafting, then we can finally get our lives back from these little monsters.

Me

May 14th, 2012
9:57 am

If you are not running either a separate firewall or a Linux server running properly configured IP Tables then, as long as those machines are on your network, they are prone to viruses, etc. Even with the firewall in place, there has to be a policy in place to allow traffic to/from the source and destinations over the necessary ports so, if the game itselt is providing the viruses and/or malware, then it still won’t be stopped.
What is the sure-fire way to avoid pregnance? Don’t have intercourse. What is the sure-fire way to avoid a computer virus? Don’t be online.

Me

May 14th, 2012
9:58 am

Sorry — that should have been “avoid pregnancies” instead of what I typed…

Me

May 14th, 2012
10:00 am

Oh, and I really didn’t make my wife happy this past weekend when I told her the son cannot consume 5000 calories while only burning 2000… She perceived that as an “attack”. Maybe I could have better stated it or been more tactful but I wasn’t. I, too, wish kids would go outside and play more and have real physical activity instead of playing video games virtually all the time.

theresa

May 14th, 2012
10:05 am

They had all paid for the game… the family had a fantastic pool and backyard so we made them play outside for a good part of the time too….

jon Newcomer

May 14th, 2012
10:43 am

The ignorance and arrogance in the comments here is absolutely terrible. Some people rather have their kids explore mountains in real life, filled with the dangers of disease and injury, rather than sit home and let their imaginations do the thinking in a spectacular game such as Mine Craft. Some you parent’s really suck. Let your kids play. How they want, and where they want.

jon Newcomer

May 14th, 2012
10:45 am

and just in case any of you tell me,” Oh you mean go out where ever they want and abuse drugs and alcohol?!?!” No I don’t mean that, I expect most of you to have raised your kids properly, and in that, given them a taste of sense that will allow them to make the right decisions within the freedom you give them.

MikeTheGeek

May 14th, 2012
11:00 am

I play a few times a week (limited to 30 minutes) with my 3 and 6 year old. We use a free server (not pirated) called “Bukkit” available at Bukkit.org. I have bought three legal copies of the game itself. We play at home on two desktops and a laptop. Both of the kids are pretty good at building things – houses, castles, etc. We collect resources and build items according to ‘recipes’ available on the internet. They learn counting and working as a team. We build systems of rails and powered carts. We dig up coal to power the carts. and so on.

You can criticize it all you want but please spare us the ignorance, if you don’t know what it is, go rant about video games elsewhere. My kids also hike, play with bugs, grow plants, ride bikes in the neighborhood, play board games, legos, etc etc. Their school work is grades ahead, they are both in the gifted program. This is the only video game we play. I think it’s great for little kids, it is a wonderful creative outlet and has some lite science and math incorporated as well. We don’t play on public servers yet but largely because the 3-year old tends to break things on accident. We’re not a fan of the mobile version, the interface is a little difficult to deal with when we’re so accustomed to the mouse and keyboard.

LuniasM

May 14th, 2012
11:01 am

There are three parts to health: Physical health, Mental health, and Emotional health. While Minecraft may not make you healthier physically, it challenges your mind and creative drive as well as providing a means to be social and be with your friends. That is something that cannot be claimed by any other major game thus far. So, if you have any intention of ever letting your child see a game console or system of any sort, Minecraft is the perfect way to go.

PS: Compare Minecraft – which has won more awards than it has developers – and that new game you were thinking about purchasing. I can assure you, Minecraft is more fun, more healthy, and a better value than any other game on the market.

my kids....

May 14th, 2012
11:13 am

My kids played outside for several hours in the rain yesterday and weren’t inside on their computers or games systems. The group of kids in our neighborhood are now playing “Hunger Games” in the woods with all of their Nerf guns that can be up to the size of bazookas. And they are all staying out until the street lights come on. And if you don’t find them up in the trees, every kid is congregated at the field playing soccer and football! At this point I’ll take dirty ruined shoes over my boys sitting with their noses stuck into the computer screens….. it’s a good sight to see when they are all outside!

my kids....

May 14th, 2012
11:18 am

BTW… my kids are Minecraft junkies and have worlds built to the guilds. My older one makes Minecraft youtube videos…. but fortunately they have been grounded from electronics since spring break and will be ungrounded “when I say so”. The last 6 weeks haven’t been so bad with Xbox console and keyboards to the computers under my bed and my laptop is “unavailable”!!

MomsRule

May 14th, 2012
11:33 am

My kids have been playing Minecraft for a very long time (years, I believe). I think we paid about $5.00 each back when it was in beta version and they now get all of the updates, etc for free.

I don’t worry too much about them playing on line as they are older (13 and 16). We have regular conversations about what is and is not appropriate and how to handle various situations. What can be shared, what can’t, etc. I would rather teach them how to deal with the online world they are growing up in versus shielding them from it.

FCM

May 14th, 2012
11:33 am

You know Teresa, you could have always decliend the invite if you opposed the activity.

Me

May 14th, 2012
11:45 am

@jon Newcomer — There is a balance. I don’t recall anyone saying they should ONLY play outside just that there is a need for physical activity along with the mental.

TMM

May 14th, 2012
11:52 am

I think both sides here are being a bit extreme. I totally agree that kids need to get outside and interact with friends. There’s nothing like sunshine for a growing boy or girl. However, video games like Minecraft challenge the mind and encourage creativity in ways that children may not be able to find outside. How many of you played with Legos? Welcome to Minecraft.

It can be as safe or unprotected as parents allow it to be.

Minecraft Knowledge source center

May 14th, 2012
12:23 pm

Good day to all mothers that don’t really know about minecraft. here is a simple breakdown of the game. Remember those lovely and highly creative-requiring Lego?
Minecraft is a creativity kind of game where you thrive in a virtual blocky world with no help to show you where to go and what to do. You have to think about what to do and figure out how to make stuff in a safe way. It is an awesome game where you don’t have to find all the missing parts like lego after they are done playing with it. One time 27$ and you’re set for life.

To play online, it is more complex. it requires finding a good and safe server with decent people. 90% of the time, the troublemakers are the kids in servers (ironically) they are usually the worst mouted and very easily upset. There is mature and kid-friendly like http://www.EmpireMinecraft.com (the best I found). These servers are monitored 24/7 by a good crew of moderators and even the owners themselves. A report/ban system is in place to be able to remove sores in the screen and to keep it all very polite and swearless.

Also, they are working on the version 1.3 of the game which players will be able to play only with friends they invite, limiting the exposition to malintended adults.

Light is at the end of the tunnel, don’t worry and please, do not prevent your child of playing such a well-made and highly unharmful game for your kids. while they play Minecraft, they don’t watch violence, don’t play Call of Duty and they don’t become dummies over too simplistic games.

PS: I’m french, I hope I didn’t inserted too many errors in my text.

Topher

May 14th, 2012
12:26 pm

Amazing how many people have such a strong opinion about a LAN birthday party. There’s nothing inherently wrong with games or gaming parties. If your children are doing this ALL THE TIME that’s another story. Yes, please, get outside kids and enjoy the world around you; play baseball, get dirty, make friends etc. But eliminating computer games seems to be a bit of an extreme.

Minecraft itself is just like a virtual sandbox and you use your own creativity and imagination. It can be as brainless or as intellectual as you make it. This game includes all the necessary building blocks for entry (and advanced) computer programming. 1/2 the technologist employed today started their careers because of their interest in games. My guess is that this will not even be a topic in 10 years; our society is doing everything on computers these days; communicating, learning, teaching, dating and yes, playing.

Banning or criticizing gaming seems unrealistic and harsh. A mix of both kinds of play sounds best to me.

matt mcalister

May 14th, 2012
12:48 pm

A good tool to use to set up a server is mcmyadmin which for free you can set up a local server for 8 people if your looking for a friendly smaller public server you can check out mine sc21.servercraft.co:3698 or check out my site minimineservers.com .Btw im a teen my self and like the sence of community that is in minecraft.On bukkit you can get mods for your server.If you want to know more about minecraft check it out on your tube such as This is minecraft or you can go to minecraft.net. Any other questions feel free to email me at matt2897@gmail.com

A

May 14th, 2012
12:56 pm

I’m not sure this is necessarily a case of being for or against gaming or this particular game. My beef would be being asked to bring my laptop to a kids party and have software I’m not familiar with installed on it. That ain’t happening. My son has been to several of those game truck parties, and those are OK for brief periods, but like someone else said, they are dark and claustrophobic and the kids emerged blinded by the light on the outside!

Becky

May 14th, 2012
1:09 pm

@jonNewcomer and MIkeTheGeek..Welcome..Y’all are fighting an uphill battle..This happens every time Theresa blogs about her kids doing something inside..It’s the same with your kids having DS players or DVD players in the car..

My two have both of these things and yes there are days when that’s all they do..BUT, we also go hiking at least 2 times each month (weather permiting), they go fishing, kayaking (sp) bike ridinng, we do lots of things that are outdoors..I have a nephew that is 2 years away from retiring from the Air Force and all he pretty much ever did growing up was play games of some sort, didn’t hurt him any..He has traveled the world doing outdoor things as well as many, many days spent sitting behind a computer for 10-12 hours at a time..LEt the kids do what they enjoy and what they are good at..Not all kids are outdoor people..

Wayne

May 14th, 2012
1:47 pm

Hey y’all. Been a while. Why is this new? I have friends that are serious gamers and they did this years ago – with desktops and CRT’s no less.

All in moderation. Limit kids time with electronics but get those board games going as well. My oldest loves marble runs. He has several that he likes to build with. Last night at dinner he designed (and explained) on paper, his latest marble run design at dinner. I was quite surprised, to say the least.

Does he play with his 3DS? Absolutely. Drives me to insanity sometimes but you just have to put your foot down and say no, go outside and play on all that equipment that Dad built for you.

First World

May 14th, 2012
2:16 pm

Problems…..

Meh

Denise

May 14th, 2012
2:46 pm

Thank you Becky! I was NOT an outdoors kid. I mean, I played outdoors with my brother and cousins but I would have much preferred to be indoors reading a book where it was cool. Plus, I was only with my cousins on occasions so I could suck up having to climb trees. I DID like picking blackberries, though. :-) I say all that to say, I would NOT have liked to not have a choice on what activities were fun to me. If video games are fun for you kid – especially games that seem to educate and force them to use their imaginations – then let them play in moderation. Shoot, even letting them read in excess can be a problem. That’s a singular activity and you don’t really learn how to interact with other people when your nose is stuck in a book. Also, while we are at it, not all kids like to read either, and that won’t damn them to a life of stupidity or lack. Stop trying to force kids to do stuff they genuinely have no interest in. That goes for sports, too.

Augusta

May 14th, 2012
3:05 pm

I’m just the opposite of Denise. I can’t stand being inside. I need to be outside………

Augusta

May 14th, 2012
3:10 pm

AND Denise, I think it’s important to introduce kids to things they have no interest in and force (too strong of a word, maybe “guide”) them to look at other options. Maybe they will get interested….my oldest had no interest whatsoever in music (even though we have it on in the house 24/7), until she started taking piano lessons, about 5 years ago. Now she is so into music, and is starting to write some stuff herself. She has taught herself to play the guitar. She can tell you the artist of practically any song on the radio. She knows so much about music now, it’s funny. We had no idea she had this gift…..we kind of forced/guided her to take up music……

Denise

May 14th, 2012
4:28 pm

Introduce is fine. We all need to be exposed to different things or we will never grow. But, using your example, if your daughter showed no aptitude or interest in playing piano it would be cruel of you to make her continue with her lessons for the last five years. Again, this is my opinion. I was an active child but I prefered indoor sports and dance classes! :-) I did play softball but I was TERRIBLE so I definitely quit that after one season. I ran track once and I wasn’t too interested in it after I did it but I played volleyball since 7th grade, even one year in college. MJG will tell you that I’m not tall so it was more for fun than “we’re going to win!!!” I went to nerd schools. :-) My whole point was that you shouldn’t MAKE kids do things they don’t like if they are CLEAR they don’t like it and can articulate why. You usually can’t articulate that very well if you haven’t tried it. “Mom I suck at baseball and I’d rather try tennis” should get a kid out of baseball and into tennis, don’t you think?

Denise

May 14th, 2012
4:31 pm

Oh….but if they begin I think they should have to finish the season or the session or whatever. No quitting in the middle unless you’re seriously injured. Never mind…you still have to suit up and support your team. Team sports are about the team. Can’t quit on your team. I played hurt a lot because I was the captain and the captain didn’t leave the court (my philosophy)…and I’m suffering for that attitude right now. Limping, bones popping… LOL

Figment

May 14th, 2012
4:37 pm

I would not go for my child taking a laptop to a party. There’s nothing wrong with a Minecraft party, it’s an awesome game. But I would not be comfortable with my child bringing a laptop to a party full on 9 year olds.

A

May 14th, 2012
5:10 pm

Thank you @Figment. How TWG can bring her laptop to this sort of party and then complain about viruses later is pretty funny. What were you expecting?

motherjanegoose

May 14th, 2012
7:00 pm

@ Denise…I have thought a bit about your comments and wanted to point out that I think you are very sociable and I enjoyed dinner with you. I hope to do it again.

Mine both played basketbal ( among other sports) and it was fascinating to see what they brought to the team. Neither was a stellar player but my son was tall and that helped, while my daughter was small and quick plus a lefty..she could snatch the ball! We encouraged them to try all sorts of different things and they then found what they liked.

I read this in a magazine article once: A family was eating dinner at a buffet. There were beets on the salad bar. The 5 year old asked his Mom, “What are these and do we like them?” The Mom replied, ” Those are beets…I do not care for them but you may like them…perhaps you should try some.” HOORAH! Some parents would say, ” No…those are nasty!” I love to give children choices to try things and then encourage a balance. We did/do have technology but my kid’s birthday parties were typically swim parties or a picnic and lots of active games. Maybe it is easier to just go with technology? Again, I have no experience in the topic arena but I do work with lots of children who love games that are fun and interactive.

I meet with Speech Pathologists on a regular basis. They tell me that oral communication and conversation can be somewhat doomed now with children who spend hours using electronics. Children and adults do not know how to interact with others. Yes, kids need to know how to use technology. Lord knows they are light years ahead of me. BUT pleasant conversation is loosing ground to: do u want 2 get 2gthr?

I spent an hour today with some NEW kids, for me. They were engaged and the teacher told me that she could NOT believe how much I kept their interest. I had puppets, books, my voice and gestures. The art of storytelling is disappearing ( to me). Do they even have school plays anymore?

catlady

May 14th, 2012
9:10 pm

MJG, we are putting on a play tomorrow, as a matter of fact. Nothing fancy, but a Reader’s Theater my well below grade level 4th graders can handle. They are so excited! I will send you a picture on my cell. I’ve talked to my cooperating teachers (many of whom I taught when they were 5 years old) and reminded them of how we did a special play right before Christmas and a special play at the end of the year. Then, I let them in on my secret–the parents came to school for the plays, and took their darlings home afterward! They were so surprised at that idea!

Folks, if it is like a sandbox or like playing with Legos, LET THEM PLAY WITH LEGOS OR THE SANDBOX OR BOTH in REAL LIFE, talking, negotiating, feeding off one another’s ideas and excitement!

(Little boxes on the hillside, little boxes made of ticky-tacky. Little boxes on the hillside, little boxes all the same. There’s a green one and a pink one and a blue one and a yellow one and they’re all made out of ticky-tacky and they all look just the same.) This is where we are headed with our kids! Or maybe the song is, “In the year 2525….” It reminds me of how homogenized we are raising kids now.

Denise

May 15th, 2012
1:26 am

Thanks, MJG! I would love to go to dinner again. Give me a shout!

My mother was the “I don’t like it so you don’t like it” sort and I do wonder what different things I’d have experienced had she not been like that or, worse, been so afraid for us. I am a nervous sort and I think it is because of how I was raised. I have to actively fight against saying no immediately. But I wasn’t exposed to a lot of different things until I went to college. Books? Yes, I read every day and I LOVE to read and read different things but my mama liked to read and she liked it quiet so it kind of “helped” that I liked to read too. It also helped that I preferred quiet too.

motherjanegoose

May 15th, 2012
7:04 am

@catllady…I’d love some pictures and am planning to come to see you this summer. I will call you when school is out.

@Denise…we will get together soon.

I am off to meet more new friends today~

motherjanegoose

May 15th, 2012
7:05 am

ooops: catlady

Speaking of ooops

May 15th, 2012
7:27 am

“BUT pleasant conversation is loosing ground to . . . “