Social Skills & Minecraft

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Minecraft Servers can be great fun but also challenging. Children can befriend others and have really good experiences, but they can also have times where they end up fighting.

How problems on a server are dealt with will depend partly on what the server norms are. Different servers have different customs. In some servers “everything goes” and people can take what they want from others, and can keep only what they can hide. In other servers areas are protected by plugins that allow players to restrict others access to their creations and chests. In other servers players are urged to just be nice and get along.

My server is one of those where I urge people to be respectful of one another’s creations, and I step in to enforce the rules when necessary. I’m not on the server all the time though. I review the server logs periodically and ask players to come to me if there is a problem. Many little problems have to be handled by the players themselves. Here are some hints for doing that.

 Situation One: Dealing with the uninvited guest.

You’re working in your house crafting some of the supplies you need for an expansion, and someone else teleports to you and stands there in the way. You need to get things to your chest, and the person is blocking the way. You’re worried if you don’t watch the person he might take something from your chest.

Multiplayer Minecraft poses another way children can learn social skills.

My suggestions are based on the guess that the other player is bored and wants to interact but doesn’t really know how.

  • Try telling the person what you are doing. “Hello! I’m just working on getting supplies together to extend my house.”
  • Offer the person a job to do. “Are you looking for something to do? I need a bit more wood. Could you chop down a tree for me?
  • Offer the person a tour of your house and then ask if the person will show you his house.
  • Say “Would you mind giving me some space?”

Situation Two: Dropped goods.

Say you’re mining, and you find some emeralds. You start hitting them with your pickaxe but when the block breaks you realize you don’t have the emeralds. Instead they’ve found their way into someone else’s inventory. What do you do?

Depending on what server you are on, you might have to accept the loss of your emeralds but there is something you can try first.

  • Say “I just mined some emeralds, but I think you picked them up by accident. Could I have them back please?” Mentioning that it was done by accident is important. It gives the other person a way out of the situation and lets them know you’re not angry.

In general it helps to take a proactive approach. If you’re mining and someone else comes close, you could suggest that you split apart and mine in separate tunnels.

Building a connection with fellow players can help too. Sometimes players are willing to go on joint mining trips helping one another with the agreement that they will split the resulting look before either leaves. There’s always a risk of being cheated when you make a deal like that, but there’s the potential to build friendships too.

Situation Three: Accusations of Theft

You’re going along, minding your own business, and someone suddenly accuses you of stealing his enchanted sword. What do you do?

  • Check your inventory. It is possible that someone else had something, but they dropped it near you and you picked it up. Check your inventory and if you have it return it saying “oops, sorry.”
  • Ask questions about the item. Did the person think you took it from a chest or that you picked it up when he dropped it? Express concern and look around to try to find it.
  • Keep calm. Say clearly, “I didn’t take the enchanted sword but I’ll try to help you find it.”
  • Avoid blaming others. You don’t like to be falsely accused. Don’t accuse others without super good reason.
  • Talk with the server admin.
  • If you did steal something, do not lie about it. Server admins will often have ways of telling who took something, and being caught lying makes everything worse. Admit your mistake, return the item and offer some extra items as well.

A Few Last Thoughts for Parents

Minecraft is a great place for learning and practicing social skills, but how much a child learns will depend partly on where the child plays. Some children come onto my server already assuming that whatever is not locked down is free for the taking. Some come used to playing on places where people jockey for status, earning different abilities and trying to be boss of different areas. I know that even on those servers, the players can learn valuable lessons in cooperation with teammates, but they can also learn some not so good lessons. So I encourage parents to talk to their kids. Make sure your kids feel free to tell you about what they are doing in Minecraft.

As a parent, sometimes it is hard to listen to a child talk about Minecraft. Minecraft is a whole new world for kids to explore and learn the recipes of. They often want to talk about it more than adults are willing to listen. I have some hints for talking with kids about minecraft, but even beyond the questions suggested there, make sure your kids know they can talk to you about the social aspects of minecraft.

Also, if your child is going on a mass multiplayer server and you are worried about the language the child may be exposed to consider turning the chat off. You can do this in game. Click escape, then options, then chat, then change chat:shown to chat:hidden or chat:commands only. However, know that turning chat off in safe smaller servers deprives a child of a valuable place to communicate and learn social skills.

 

 

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