A paedophile who groomed young boys for sex through the video game Minecraft has been jailed for two years and eight months.

Adam Isaac, 23, from Merthyr Tydfil in Wales, used Minecraft to lure two young boys, aged 12 and 14, into sexually explicit chats over Skype.

He asked them to send intimate photos of themselves in exchange for money.

Isaac previously admitted eight sexual offences against children and was sentenced at Methyr Tydfil Crown Court on Friday (20 January).

Prosecutor Rachel Knight told the court: "The offences occurred after Isaac became the group leader of 20 participants in the Minecraft game involving the two boys.

"The defendant sent money to the boys on PayPal and used the game to groom them. The parents of the boys did not know what was happening. In the case of the 12-year-old he was playing the game at night while his parents were asleep."

Minecraft – an award-winning game which has sold more than 100m copies worldwide – sees players build and explore virtual worlds made out of 3D blocks.

But the court heard how Isaac used the game build his own sinister world designed to trap and groom children, which he then used to indulge his own sexual fantasies.

He was found to have committed sexual acts on himself while on video calls with the children, paid them to engage in sex acts on themselves, and had in his possession indecent images of a third boy.

He was caught after the father of the 12-year-old boy went to the police after discovering his son's Skype chats involved him being asked about his sex life.

In a statement to the court, the family of one of the victims said: "We never believed he could be manipulated in this way after we warned him about the dangers online.

"We are now so scared to allow him online. He has matured so quickly – we are fighting to stop him going down a destructive path and we are trying to get him back to being the child he was."

Isaac admitted causing or inciting child prostitution or pornography, performing sexual acts in the presence of a child, encouraging a child to engage in a sexual activity and the possession of indecent photos of a child.

Susan Ferrier, defending, said Isaac had apologised to the boys and their parents for his criminal behaviour.

"He was subjected to bullying from the age of 12 and is far more comfortable in the online world than the real world," she added.

On top of a prison sentence, Judge Richard Twomlow QC handed him a sexual harm prevention order banning him from accessing the internet and storing digital images online.

He told him: "You befriended these young boys over the internet. Minecraft is a very popular game with teenagers and is an innocent type of game involving construction, but your behaviour amounted to a grooming process and the offences were serious over a period of time."

The NSPCC said the case had reminded parents the importance of online safety, saying grooming of this kind had become one of the "major 21st century child protection challenges".

It said its own research found 50% of school children surveyed admitted seeing sexual or violence material online.

A spokesman for the children's charity said: "Isaac's offences are serious involving the use of an online game played by millions of children to contact his young victims.

"Online safety is one of the major 21st century child protection challenges as we know the internet is used as as gateway by abusers to commit hundreds of offences against children each year."