This summer, our son got hooked on Minecraft.* He played it at a couple of friends’ houses, and then he discovered videos about it on YouTube — videos which showed him the wide array of what was possible in the game. (Some of them also showed him colorful metaphors of the sort he doesn’t hear around our house, and when I overheard one such, I told him I wanted him to refrain from watching videos by that particular person.) He downloaded the demo to the Xbox. He wanted the full version.
My husband came up with a win-win scenario: our son cleaned his room up by Labor Day, and we’d get the full version. Great happiness ensued.
I’m the only one in the family not actively playing Minecraft. I say “actively” because I’m a passive player — I sit in the room, usually while my husband’s playing, do some sort of craft (crochet, knit, mend), and offer opinions on courses of action and choices. It’s a collaborative gameplay style we first employed back when I was pregnant with my son, and little’s changed in the meantime except the hardware we’re playing on.
Even the five-year-old has her own little world that she plays in Creative mode. In fact, both kids play in Creative mode.
This basically means they run around, making crazy worlds where an island may be entirely covered with snow but with cocoa trees and ocelots and gigantic lavafall pillars. It’s like a combination of Lego and Playmobil with an infinite play set.
Because it’s a game, it does have monsters that spawn; the most common are zombies, skeletons, spiders, and creepers (who explode). The girl plays in peaceful mode, which means the monsters may spawn, but they don’t attack. The boy sometimes plays in peaceful mode, but he likes fighting zombies, too, so sometimes he doesn’t.
I can see the draw of the game. It’s the same reason so many people play FarmVille or Zombie Farm or the Sims — they scratch the creative itch. They give people tools to sculpt with, to make the world of their dreams. My husband created a glass house on a mountain peak — and then put a couple of trees on the roof. He’s thinking about building an underwater home, too.
I have enough ways to exercise my creativity, but I’m happy to watch the three of them play. Also, it’s very nice for the kids to play something together where they cooperate.
Have you played Minecraft or a similar game? Is someone in your family hooked? What do you love or hate about it?
*For those not familiar with the game: Minecraft is a game that uses all the wonders of modern tech and high resolution to mimic the look of an 8-bit game. You dig and delve, then use the blocks of dirt, coal, stone, and other materials to create things such as farms, homes, and bridges. You can craft a furnace, then use that to smelt materials — iron ore becomes iron ingots, sand becomes glass, wheat becomes bread.