One of the really neat things about Minecraft is that players can make their own changes to the way the game looks and behaves. This is a large part of its particular appeal and one of the reasons why it's still incredibly popular years after its release.
There are two main ways to make these kinds of customizations, resource packs and mods. Resource packs are replacement sound and image files which make fairly simple changes to the way the game looks, like making pigs blue or adding different music. Mods on the other hand are files which alter the original programming code of the game, so they have the potential to make much bigger alterations and change the way the entire game behaves.
What do mods do?
There are literally thousands of mods out there, and they all do different things - some are useful (e.g. enabling players to better manage their inventory), some are educational (e.g. replicating ancient worlds) and some are just plain ol' fun (e.g. adding dinosaurs or letting players create enormous explosions).
Some examples of things that mods can do:
- Add new blocks, items or mobs (animals and creatures)
- Change the way blocks, items or mobs look
- Give players new abilities
- Give players more control over the game
- Modify or add new landscapes and terrain
- Add new options for things like speed or graphics
- Fix bugs that Mojang haven’t gotten around to fixing yet
What should parents know about mods?
A really important thing to be aware of is that mods are created by other players and not by Mojang (the makers of Minecraft), so they're not an official part of the product. This means that if something goes wrong, you won't be able to get support or help from Mojang.
Here are some other quick things that parents should be aware of:
- Mods can only be applied to the computer version (not console or PE)
- They're a fun but not essential part of the game
- They’re made to work on a specific version of Minecraft - you may not be able to run the latest update with mods which are incompatible
- Any mod has the potential to cause problems - they can cause the game to crash, delete worlds or data, corrupt game files or contain viruses
- They're not necessarily created with kids in mind (and are not rated), so may contain inappropriate content
- While they usually come with instructions, there are no standards and they may come with limited or no documentation at all
- Mods can conflict with each other so read instructions carefully before installing
None of these things need to scare you away from using them, but being prepared will greatly reduce the likelihood that you'll run into trouble.
Where to start?
If you're ready to dive into the world of Minecraft modding, head on over to read the safety tips for downloading mods and how-to installation guide. There's also a list of popular mods that you can use as a good place to start.