“Learn to Program with Minecraft” book review
written by craig, 7 February 2016
Combining Minecraft with Python seems an ideal way to introduce kids to programming. Aimed at those ten and above, Craig Richardson’s book applies software development to Minecraft worlds so learners can quickly build structures, transport themselves around the environment and create mini-games.
The comprehensive 300-page full-colour book starts by explaining how to install the Minecraft game (commercial edition), server, Java, Python and various utilities on Windows and Mac OS. It’s well explained although I suspect it could be daunting for less-technical readers. Fortunately, the free Raspbian OS edition on the Raspberry Pi is an easier and possibly cheaper alternative.
The main sections lead from simpler concepts such as variables, number and string handling though to conditions, loops, functions and eventually object oriented programming. Each chapter describes a programming concept then demonstrates how it can be used to manipulate Minecraft players and blocks. The writing style is informal and engaging while the colour screenshots help visualise what the reader can achieve.
The book is perfect for anyone who primarily wants to learn how to program and enjoys Minecraft. However, it’s an ambitious undertaking for most ten year-olds — teenage years seems more realistic. Younger readers would possibly be more engaged if the learning technique was reversed, i.e. they were given simple Minecraft problems which could be solved with program logic while slowly introducing key techniques.
Overall, it’s difficult to fault the book. It’s well-priced, well-written and well-designed. Recommended.