Photo: First snow… isn’t is so pretty!? (I spent my whole weekend in a ball crying. When do I get to move back to Maryland? Or maybe we could go even further south? I have lovely dreams of sandy beaches and warm sun all year around!)
Ursa Major has been asking for Minecraft for Christmas. He has a few friends who are a bit obsessed. They come to school and fill my son’s head full of all things Minecraft: Creeper this and Steve that… Something something Ender Dragon, blah blah something whatever. Major has never played the game in his life, but he seems to know the mechanics of how the game works. And now here it is on the (ever growing, totally ridiculous) Christmas list. The other thing they really want which is just not happening? This incredible monstrosity. I can’t even. I don’t even think they can fit in it!
The Husband and I have endured the pleas for the last few weeks, as all parents are doing the same. But yesterday after church, I surprised myself by voicing a verdict on the matter. The Husband was actually threatening to set up Minecraft on an old computer we have in the house. I started in on “we need another machine, how much would it cost to set up a second one…” Plans were being talked out to set up two desks and two computers in the spare bedroom. The talk of all this infrastructure for a game quickly got me to a pretty hard no.
“I’m just not sure they really need to be playing Minecraft. I get it: it’s creative, and sandbox games are wonderful, but they have their whole entire lives to be hunched in front of a computer.”
I admit that I surprised myself. I’ve been a certified Gamer Girl since 1990ish or so; whenever I could read enough to choose my own games, turn on an NES and make Mario move across a screen. I used to sneak over to a friend’s house between school and Power Rangers to play Mortal Kombat because Father refused to buy it for us. “Ladies don’t play fighting games,” he said. The big joke was that my little sister and I could kick anyone’s ass in the neighborhood. We brought the beatdown to many a living room. My sister and I lost no less than 99 hours of our lives racing chocobos and getting lost in the story of Final Fantasy VII (and VIII, which sucked. And IX, which was awesome). I ran a guild in World of Warcraft during college. Don’t get me started on Zelda, Dark Souls, Dragon Age, The Last of Us, and oh my God, Elder Scrolls… there are too many to name.
In other words, I’ve got no problem with video games. I don’t object to my boys playing them. I want my boys to find the same joy and satisfaction that comes with solving a problem, discovering a story, building up an awesome character, being challenged by a fantastical concept… video games are part of who I am and I’m not sorry for the countless hours I’ve spent playing them.
I’m not even sorry for the hours The Husband and I sank into Minecraft when we first discovered it. We have our own server, we’ve built gorgeous creations in our own little world… but my problem with putting Minecraft in the hands of my almost 7-year-old (and my almost 6-year-old) is that you get all the immersion of a game, but without the same sort of satisfaction of story, challenge and character that you do in some of the games I grew up on. There are a lot of good things about Minecraft, and my kids will absolutely play it eventually. But, not yet. It’s not even that they aren’t “ready” for it–I’m sure they’d get the game mechanics rather easily. It’s just that I’m not as convinced as everyone else that they will benefit from playing it at the moment.
Though my husband is just as much of a gamer as I am, he doesn’t fully agree with me. “If it’s a choice of them getting sucked into that instead of Dinotrucks or whatever crap they are watching on TV, I choose Minecraft,” he said during our argument.
I’m just as unhappy with Dinotrucks and Transformers as he is, but at least there is story and plot points and characters to keep up with. I suppose you can argue that you “make up your own” story with your imagination in Minecraft. That is true, and I can’t argue with that. I don’t know how I became so old-school about it, but I firmly believe that there is something powerful about sitting on a couch, controllers in hand, and experiencing a game together. I love watching the boys fight through a level of Mario or Donkey Kong on our Wii, and listening to them talk to each other about a boss fight or a new baddie they’ve encountered. I love listening to them get frustrated, talk out strategy, and then try again. Believe it or not, they are learning a lot about themselves and each other as they play together.
There are plenty of things on the “nope” list. I’m grateful I don’t have to argue with my children about smart phones and ipads and instagram. All the parents I know who have older kids are being pummeled daily about that damn Iphone X. I do not envy them. Many of us will still make a purchase that will test the boundaries of what we think we or our children are really ready for. Something will be brought into our homes that we’ll probably regret later. What’s Christmas without a little bit of guilt and regret, yeah? Fa la la la la…
It’s Monday. There are so few days left before Christmas and there is SO much to do! BUUUUT I’m committed to NOT doing a Fail post this week. I’m not gonna do it. I’m gonna be cool and be a good writer and write all my posts this week! You’ll see! You’ll see!
So I will see you Wednesday. Until then, Dear Reader, take care!