When my son, Maxwell, invited me into his Minecraft world as a ‘guest player’, we connected on a whole new realm. I discovered some qualities about him – and me – that transformed our ‘offline’ relationship. Here’s what I learned, and what you could learn about your child, when you enter their Minecraft world…
My son, Maxwell, was hooked the minute he discovered the computer game, Minecraft. So what’s the lure? In essence, the game is creative – players explore, mine, construct, craft and build in their own 3D computer generated world out of blocks. It teaches about resources – he needs to collect chickens, apples and other food to maintain his health, build his own house for protection, and source wood for fire torches and lighting. It has multiple modes (creative mode is harmless and actually really great fun, has unlimited resources and the best bit, their character doesn’t die). In the survival mode, the character can die – thanks to zombies, creepers, skeletons, spiders and other beasties. The noises these guys make is scary, so naturally I was worried about him playing it. I kept asking if he was scared by them (I was!) or had bad dreams. He was totally unfazed by them. Instead of defending the game and the age-appropriateness of it, he invited me to connect to his world and see for myself – as a second player. So I did. I learned a whole lot of stuff about him and myself that’s been hugely beneficial for us both. Here’s just a few of the rare apples I learned, and you may discover by ‘connecting’ to your child’s Minecraft world too…
1. Kids Are Altruistic
My heart melted within five minutes of connecting to Maxwell’s Minecraft world. In preparation for me joining the game and entering his world as a second player, he’d built us a house, a bed, and even given me my own treasure chest with half of his inventory, which included the much prized ‘diamond armour’, sword and pickaxe to protect me from baddies. He’d even written signs saying ‘Mum’ and ‘Maxwell’ so I knew whose gear was whose. Seeing how proud he was of the house he built, and his selflessness and sacrifice in sharing his inventory for my well-being, made me incredibly proud too.
2. Despite Appearances, They Are Good Teachers
Computer games are not my forte. I was a fumbling mess trying to work out how to walk, jump, even turn around! But Maxwell was a patient, instructional and an excellent teacher – not once did he become anxious or annoyed by his novice, clumsy Padawan – even after giving me strict instructions not to open the prison door full of skeletons (which I accidentally did!). Spending time with him where he was the master Jedi and I was the apprentice brought out incredible leadership qualities and patience I didn’t previously realise he had – or at least, I wasn’t conscious of.
3. Kids Are Protective
Man, those zombies are fierce. When we found ourselves in a dark cave Maxwell’s survival instincts kicked in – fast! He used all his strategic might to light the cave with torches from his ‘treasure chest’, then in a bid to save me from the surrounding zombies, he laid TNT dynamite and blew them all up – it was awesome! He even saved me from drowning in the sea. It was fantastic to see his ‘protector’ side shine – my hero! And it was incredible to experience team work and cooperation with him on his turf. And fun!
4. And Logical!
As a mum, I do most of the planning on ‘auto pilot’. Setting up breakfast for the morning, laying out the school uniform… but I shouldn’t! Maxwell’s a gem at planning! He talked me through every step and explained what had to be done in the correct order. He knew that when the sun set in the game, we had to be secure in our home to avoid the zombies. He gathered wood from the trees, mined coal then crafted sticks to make torches. He mined stone to build a protective fortress and keep the zombies out, and even locked the doors behind us so we were 100% safe! He’s ability to schedule, plan, and stock up on supplies required to survive astounded me. And when he didn’t have an answer, he’d find a solution. “Mum, we need to turn the iron ore into iron agate to create diamond armour, which will protect us from the baddies. But first, we need the right pickaxe to mine the iron ore. Let’s Google how to do it.” If only I could be that organised and logistical…
5. Kids Are Super Quick, Clever & Nimble
I struggle to write a coherent text message half the time with those teeny screens and touchpads. So I was blown away by the dexterity and fine motor skill manoeuvring Maxwell showed while engineering boats, battling baddies, mining and crafting, jumping, flying and even guiding me from one destination to another throughout the game.
6. They Are Understandably Entranced By The Game
I have a low patience threshold. Asking more than once to “stop playing the computer game” drives me batty. But after learning how to play, and that he needs his character to be safe in the house so the baddies don’t get him at nightfall (they can still attack if you ‘pause’ the game – apparently), I resolved to find a solution. Now, he gets a five minute warning – long enough to find safety for his character. A win-win I say.
Is your child a Minecraft fan? Connect to their world and tell me what you learned about your little one.