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How Minecraft stole my son.

This mum thought she would be spending quality time with her son over the school holidays. But she hadn’t counted on the dragons and zombies.

My six-year old son has been away a lot over these recent school holidays.

There are no adults where he has been.

No rules either.

And from what I hear lots of fire.

Oh, he’s been around.

But not in a place I can get my head around. You see he is six and he is addicted to MINECRAFT.

From what I can tell he isn’t alone.

When I drag him away I see his eyes dart back to the nearest idevice. His fingers twitching to snaffle it and re-enter his world.

And drag him away I do but he doesn’t seem to really ever leave the land.

This is my son's world.

Our conversations go something like this: ME: what do you want to do today sweetie? HIM: I was thinking about clay ME: Clay, oh that’s a good idea. Get creative huh. HIM: Well, we’d need a crafting table. ME: A crafting table what for? HIM: To build torches, and blocks.

It’s all of a sudden become a constant in our lives.

I delayed it for a long time, all last year constant begging for Minecraft was fobbed off or delayed. But this year I finally gave in.

One minute he was all Diego and Bob the Builder and before I even noticed life began to revolve around Ender Dragons and enchantments and building gardens and oak blocks and statues.

If you know what I am talking about your eyes will be used to the glazed feeling you get when your child asks you for the gazillionth time that day to “come and look at this room I have built.”

You will be used to the new greeting from children when they come over to your house to play. Not “Hi Shauna” but “Hi what’s your WIFI password?”.

You will know who Stampylongnose and Ballistic Squid are without me having to explain and you will have found the lure of Minecraft an inducement for your kids to perform a myriad of chores they never would normally consider.

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(For those not in the know Stampylongnose and Ballistic Quid are YouTube simulations of Minecraft by some guy who narrates them with one of the most annoying and grating voices ever to enter your home. He has over 2 million subscribers – seriously!)

The first few times my kids started playing it, I didn’t realize that it was multiplayer and I got pretty shocked when from the other room I would hear cries of “you killed me” or “don’t set fire to my bed”. (Who IS he talking to I would think?)

But I now think it is one of the positives of the game – the fact they interact and build stuff together rather than just mindlessly kill baddies. (Though there is that too.)

If you live under a rock (a cobblestone perhaps) or your kids are just that little bit too young then here a quick rundown of what it is.

When they are in the zone, there is no reaching them.

Minecraft is a computer game you can play on an Xbox, a PC or Mac or on an ipad or an iphone. It’s kind of like virtual lego – where you build your worlds through raw materials. There are two modes survival and creative.

Here is a mass generalisation but it seems pretty true for what I have observed. Us mums seem to like creative. We think it makes our kids think a little more. They build and explore and grow crops and raise animals and fly and swim.

Survival seems to be the mode the kids like the best, they still have to build but they have to fight off monsters and zombies and all sorts of creepy crawlies. They have to feed themselves to survive and kill animals to both eat and use their skins. When I suggested to my son that he just be nice to the animals he looked at me like I had suggested he never eat again.

I’m actually a little shocked how much I seem to have virtually absorbed through my hmmms and nods and feigned interest but the fact of the matter is it seems to have completely dominated the last few weeks of my life.

Luckily for us school holidays is over which means no more computer games for a term. But a small part of me is wondering if I will miss it and long for more talk of torches and pick axes and small parcels of the day when everyone seems happy aside from the presence of a zombie or two.

What has your child been obsessed with these holidays?

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