What is it
Blocksworld (not to be confused with similarly-titled games such as “block world”) is one of many Minecraft-inspired games, but Blocksworld stands apart in the quality of the game, the number of features, and the implicit instruction of programming fundamentals.
What Lego is to Minecraft, Duplo is to Blocksworld.
Who is it for
The game is complex enough to be fun and satisfying for almost any age. The controls are simple enough that kids as young as five can get something out of it.
There is a social component to the game, where users can share their creations. While a nice idea, this can lead to some inappropriate creations being available to everyone. Blocksworld has moderators to sift out the inappropriate stuff, but parents should be aware that sometimes nasty things get through.
What Kids Like
This is currently my kids’ favorite game. They would spend ten hours a day playing it. It’s very easy to build stuff, and not just static things like buildings, but driveable cars with lasers and the like. There are the usual game components such as credits and badges and levels, which help motivate and get a sense of accomplishment.
What Parents Like
My favorite aspect is the pseudo-coding that the game uses to give functionality to the creations. If you build a car with laser beams, you need to “program” how the car and lasers operate. This kid of coding is perfect to teach kids fundamentals of programming.
There are so many STEM apps out there, and most of them fail because they try to teach overtly. But most kids don’t want a game that teaches coding. They want a game that is fun, where the teaching is implicit.
The best educational games are those where the education happens in the background. People who played RISK! or Axis & Allies as kids know world geography, not because they were explicitly taught, but because knowing that stuff helped in playing the game.
What the Critics Think
The critics don’t seem to like the game as much as I or my kids do.
A couple things:
• Wow, so many ads! This game has more ads than other games I let my kids play. I allow it because I think the game has enough merits, but the volume of ads is a concern. And since you don’t know what ads are going to be displayed, you need to supervise the kid a bit more than you would otherwise.
• The social/sharing/multiplayer/community feature is well-done. The kids are motivated to share their creations and see what other kids have built. But it’s not hard to imagine what happens when some middle-schoolers find out that they can upload their “Momo” or “Evil Elmo” creations. Blocksworld has moderators who flag this stuff, and it’s generally a safe environment for kids, but again, supervision is strongly recommended.
Who Made it
Most Minecraft-like games are made by random teenagers learning to program, but Linden is a group of very experienced developers, and their experience is evident in the quality of the game.
Blocksworld was initially developed by Swedish independent video game developer Boldai, which was acquired by U.S.-based Linden Lab in early 2013. An earlier version of the game was briefly available in 2012 in Sweden, Iceland, Finland, Denmark and Norway. However, for the subsequent global release, the game was repositioned as a freemium offering where players have the option to purchase premium sets and games, additional building objects and pieces, coins, and other upgrades and extras for a small fee.
Virtual coins serve as the in-game currency, which can be either purchased via the in-app shop or rewarded through various community actions such as having creations rated via stars.
Players used have the option to pay 7.99 (US) or (CAD) dollars for Blocksworld Premium, which gives an infinite amount of designated blocks. Now, Blocksworld Premium is a subscription which has to be paid monthly/yearly and gives more benefits than the original Blocksworld Premium.
In September 2017, Blocksworld was released on Steam, prior to that, you could only play it on your browser or on your mobile device.
Where Can I Get it