Screenshot of Minecraft gameplay
Screenshot of Minecraft gameplay

Minecraft is a sandbox building and creation game for a number of platforms including Xbox 360 that allows players to build entire worlds out of textured 3D cubes.

In Minecraft, the world is divided into biomes ranging from deserts to jungles to snowfields. The in-game time system follows a day and night cycle, with one full cycle lasting 20 real-time minutes. Throughout the course of the game, players encounter various non-player characters known as mobs which could be animals, villagers, and hostile creatures. During daytime, non-hostile animal mobs such as cows, pigs, and chickens, emerge into the game. They may be hunted for food and used for crafting materials. During nighttime and in dark areas, hostile mobs such as large spiders, skeletons, and zombies, emerge into the game.

Minecraft allows for an infinitely large game world to be generated on the horizontal plane. The game achieves this by splitting the game world data into smaller sections called “chunks”, which are only created or loaded into memory when players are nearby. Minecraft features two alternate dimensions besides the main world – the Nether and The End. The game also offers a multiple modes (Survival, Creative, Adventure, Multiplayer) as well as editions (Pocket Edition,  Xbox360, Raspberry Pi).

Keywords / Definitions


  • Open World: Type of video game design where a player can roam freely through a virtual world

  • Sandbox: Player has tools to modify the world themselves and create how they play

  • Emergent Game Play: Complex situations that emerge from interaction of relatively simple game mechanics


I never thought I would be able to make a mod in Minecraft.
—Design, Art, and Code Summer Camper

Minecraft has found such popularity for the creative freedom it grants players in-game, as well as the ease of enabling emergent gameplay. Critics have praised Minecraft’s complex crafting system, commenting that it is an important aspect of the game’s open-ended gameplay.  Players and reviewers favor the game’s adventure elements, noting that the game creates a good balance between exploring and building.The game’s multiplayer feature has been generally well-received, with Imagine Games Network commenting that “adventuring is always better with friends.”

MinecraftEDU is an online resource for educators that aides in integrating game-building into almost any subject or curriculum. Teachers can access a wealth of libraries that contain pre-fabricated worlds and environments. While using Minecraft in the classroom does require investment in the Xbox gaming system, there is a special discount for teachers that offers 50% off the software.

Minecraft was last modified: April 1st, 2014 by Matt Hannigan