Archive for August, 2014

Why I like Minecraft

August 10, 2014

Mine is a family of Minecrafters. We have it on virtually every electronic device in the house and when we aren’t playing it, we’re likely to be watching other people play it on youtube. My sons skype their cousin and play multiplayer Minecraft with her, and we play together as a family on servers and in connected worlds either through our computers or on our game console.

Admittedly we probably exceed the average 20 hours per week “screen time” statistic, but the truth is, I don’t have a problem with this. Because I can see the appeal of the game. I enjoy building elaborate houses and roller coasters and tunnels and learning how to craft items and exploring the landscape. I love playing in survival mode and starting from scratch in a randomly generated world where I have to fend for my survival against the creatures of the night. I get excited when we download a new “mod” from the enormous community of freely available packs and test how it modifies the game, making it even better. I can get quite emotionally attached to things I have designed, and have to control my frustration when a creeper blows them up. Just as my boys do. Together we have built pyramids and castles and skyscrapers and cafes and libraries and roads and seaside shacks.

I am having a shared experience with my boys, and we are involved and engaged together. For once I am in step with something they are interested in. This may be the last time for my oldest, as he sits on the scary precipice of pre-adolesence where he will tell me less and less and disappear more and more. I am not looking forward to being out of step, and so I am relishing this time we are sharing in this computer landscape where anything is possible and battles are bloodless and relatively benign. We are building and learning and creating and exploring, and whilst we may not be outside as we sit at our screens, nor are we sitting blankly staring as a television blares out its over-loud commercialised garbage. In fact, I can’t remember when we last watched tv. The boys may have had it on in the morning last week but no one was paying any attention. They were likely watching an episode of DiamondMinecart on youtube, voiced by a young English guy I have grown accustomed to hearing amongst my own boys talk. We have brought “Dan” from the DiamondMinecart into our home, through our screens, and I’m ok with this because he doesn’t swear, he doesn’t provoke, he just talks – and talks and talks – about Minecraft.

I suppose some might say I am enabling a dangerous obsession. That it is unhealthy for the boys to be so single-minded in their interest. Well, they also like soccer and Lego and riding their scooters and going on the trampoline and visiting their Nanna and Poppa and having play dates with friends and reading Percy Jackson and doing magic tricks and playing kids Monopoly and eating cereal and looking for caterpillars. I’m not convinced that they’re unhealthy. Plus I play it too, and I feel just fine.