I've been getting a lot of panicked emails lately from parents asking about the Minecraft sex mod rumours. Is there sex in Minecraft? How easily can kids see it? How do I stop my kids from seeing it? I can understand why this must be alarming to hear, so let me help you sort out the facts from the fiction.
Is there sex in Minecraft?
There is no sex in the official, unmodded game of Minecraft but there are some unofficial mods that can contain inappropriate content like sex and violence.
What are mods?
It's clear that a large source of the confusion is parents not understanding what mods are and how they come to be applied to the game. Mods are unofficial modified bits of game code created by players. They are not part of the official game, they don't come packaged with the game and are not supported by Mojang. Read the article What Are Mods? to learn more about mods.
Where do mods come from?
Mods are created by players and then shared with the public via gaming forums and mod websites.
How does a mod get in the game?
To apply a mod, the player needs to download the file and manually add it to their game files (you can learn more about how that's done in the Parent's Guide To Installing Mods).
Do mods have bad content?
Most of the time mods are not inappropriate and just add items to the game or change what a player can do. But there are definitely mods with content which would be considered inappropriate for kids, including sex and violence (as well as just gross dumb stuff). These have been around for a long time and are not a new thing. Note that there are no censorship controls or ratings on mods.
How easy is it to come across these bad mods?
Mods are freely and easily available, but are not added to the game automatically. They must be downloaded by the player and added to their game files manually and on purpose. They can also be added to the game hosted on the multiplayer servers that your kids might play on.
The Minecraft community is made up of a lot of people who love the game and enjoy being creative, and most of the mods they create are inventive, useful or clever. The proportion of content that is offensive or inappropriate is reasonably small, but they are just as easy to find and download as the 'okay' mods.
The other thing you need to be aware of is that there are thousands of videos on YouTube of people playing Minecraft using mods. Some of these will be inappropriate content, including mods designed to simulate sex. These should be flagged under YouTube's content age restriction rules but are not always, lots seem to fall under the radar. And regardless of what game they're playing or whether they're using mods, videos of other people's gameplay can contain language, topics and recreated situations that you wouldn't find appropriate for your kids.
What can you do if you're concerned?
The number one thing you can do to protect your kids from content you don't want them to see is to learn where that content is and how easy it is for them to access. In this case it means understanding what mods are and how they are installed - hopefully this article and the links in it will help you with that. When it comes to YouTube videos, you need to be aware that there are no protections or filters that are going to keep your kids 100% safe from inappropriate content. It's very difficult for YouTube to identify, especially the spoken commentary in gameplay videos. They rely on viewers to discover and flag this content for them.
Check your devices
If you suspect that your kids may have installed a mod with inappropriate content (or you just want to see what they do have installed) here's where to look.
Pay attention to multiplayer servers
You only have control over the mods that are installed on your own devices - when kids play on a multiplayer server then they are playing the game with the mods chosen and installed by the server host. A good multiplayer server will have this information readily available on their website. If they don't and you're concerned that these mod choices may not be appropriate (or you're not sure which mods are being used on the server), you can watch some gameplay, join the server and play yourself or reach out to the server hosts and ask. But honestly, kids are more likely to encounter inappropriate content in the chats on multiplayer servers than they are from the mods installed.
There's no need to stop playing Minecraft altogether. It's a safe game with some potentially unsafe add-ons. It has always been a game that benefits from parental involvement - to help younger kids figure it out, for installing mods, keeping an eye on multiplayer server chats, reaping the many educational benefits, sharing family time... there are lots of reasons why parents should learn what the game is about. So stay calm, get involved.
So the bottom line is, as always, that you really need to be aware of what your kids are downloading and installing - and definitely what they're watching on YouTube! Nothing has changed about Minecraft, it's still an excellent tool for learning and creating and having fun. A large part of that fun is the ability to modify what the game can do and be part of a community of people sharing their creations. But as with any type of user-created content that comes with some risks, and parents should educate themselves about where those risks lie and how to protect their kids from them.
I hope this has helped you understand the situation a little better! Please contact me anytime if you have any concerns or questions, or need help finding out whether your kids have these mods installed. You can use the contact form or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
UPDATED: Snopes have written an article to help sort out the facts.
UPDATED: Added some tips for what to do if you're concerned.