At 9, my two boys are too young to watch The Hunger Games, but they know the gist of it – the last person standing is the winner. That of course means there’s a whole load of killing going on – a small fact I overlooked when I happily agreed to play Xbox Minecraft: The Hunger Games with them ‘some time over the school holidays’.
Having recently been gifted an Xbox family pack from the lovely peeps at Xbox, I thought it’d be a nice ‘family bonding’ activity.
In fact, giving the kids carte blanche with a bow and arrow revealed a whole load of surprising truths – and I can safely say I understand my kids’ personalities more after playing Xbox Minecraft: The Hunger Games with them.
There was shock, tears, begging, mercy and laughs!
So grab your controller, pull up a cushion and make yourself comfy.
Here, I present the 5 surprising revelations I discovered about my kids while playing X-Box Minecraft: The Hunger Games with them…
Revelation #1 Revenge is sweet, step-mummy dearest
You’ve gotta feel for the kids, really. They’re always in the submissive seat when it comes to the power dynamics in a family unit. So what happens when the roles are reversed and the parents are planted firmly in the submissive seat? Ouch. It hurts. Well, it did when I was launched into the virtual world of Minecraft: The Hunger Games and my nine-year-old step-son started repeatedly hitting me.
“What are you doing? You are killing me!” I yelled across the room in real time. “I know,” Daniel laughed. “It’s The Hunger Games. I’m meant to be killing you. The last person alive is the winner.”
I was, well, gobsmacked. But there’s a positive side to being taken down by your step-son. He was completely empowered by the experience. And to quote Master Yoda, “Learned a valuable lesson in empathy, I did.”
For kids, child-driven play in their world – where they feel competent and in-charge – gives them the opportunity to develop to their confidence, leadership skills and to explore their unique potential. They are unrestrained by adult rules in their world. They make the rules. You, mummy dearest, are their guest! Watch as they navigate through their world independently and at their own pace, showing off their skills and creativity, and creating their own little identities. It’s totally empowering for the kids and it enables them to explore parts of their personalities that they can’t in the real world. You’ll be impressed!
Revelation #2 They can work fast, efficiently and multi-task with ease when they want too
This is really helpful information for a parent – particularly when you think asking the kids to clean their room/get ready for bed/unpack their school bag is possibly a big ask and involves too many steps for a little fella…
In fact, tiny nine-year-olds may be capable of incredibly big things! Here’s how this revelation unfolded.
Maxwell: [Taking his leadership role very seriously and handing everyone their controller].
‘Mum, this is your controller. Press ‘X’ twice when I tell you. Are you ready? Daniel, are you ready? Josh, are you ready?’
Me: ‘There’s like, 12 buttons and two joysticks on this controller. How am I supposed to know what does what?’
Maxwell: ‘Mum, just press the buttons I tell you to press ok?’
I sat on my toosh on the couch with my special Minecraft Piggy limited edition controller, sent to me as a gift by Xbox, clueless. In my head I was Jennifer Lawrence from The Hunger Games all ready to battle. Then, ‘Go!’ And both Josh and I buggered up the first instruction to ‘press ‘X’ twice’ on command.
Impressively, Maxwell reset all four controllers, selected our characters again and, this time, ran around the lounge room and pressed the ‘X’ button himself on each of our controllers.
Solutions-focused, I like it!
He even managed to play his character while calling out to me which buttons I needed to press. Wow. His ability to process a whole load of information simultaneously was quite phenomenal! Daniel did the same with his dad’s controller (Josh) – playing two players at one time!
This speedy, super-efficient multi-tasking ability was more impressive than Batman’s, Superman and Green Lantern’s powers combined. No excuses now, boys!
Revelation #3 They can work together as a team
All types of play have their benefits. Competitive play encourages kids to try harder, teaches kids about how to be a good winner and a good loser. Independent play encourages kids to think for themselves, solve problems and of course gain the confidence to work independently, and team work is critical for social and personal growth and development and building trust.
Most of the time my boys play well together, but there are limited opportunities for them to work as a ‘team’. Then we played Xbox Minecraft: The Hunger Games and the two boys teamed up against Josh and I. You know that ‘empowerment point’ from revelation #1? Yeah, that was evident! And some surprising other skills were clearly noticeable to. They strategized, they listened to one another, they evolved their ideas, they expressed their individuality, they shared their weapons and potions from each other’s inventory and they protected each other in the game. My heart almost melted off the couch.
Revelation #4 They have a sense of humour
Sometimes we parents get so stuck in the hamster wheel of school/homework/extracurricular activities/dinner/bath/bed that we forget to schedule in – and teach – our kids to have fun. To just enjoy the moment and allow their wit to develop. We forget to nurture their sense of humour. That takes time and patience.
When I first played Minecraft with Maxwell I saw this protective side of him that I had never experienced – he wanted to save me from the dangers in the game, and it was gorgeous! That was a few years ago and things have evolved a tad since then. Now, he simultaneously laughs his head off while trying to give me instructions on how to stop drowning in the game. ‘You’ll be right mum! You’ll have another life after this game!”
Revelation #5 They are a whole load more techno savvy than we think
My son can work my iPhone, my iTunes account and knows how to retrieve forgotten passwords. But watching the boys on the X-Box controller, which has buttons for just about everything (including an ejector seat!) to perform different functions while watching the screen and jumping up out of their seat every 30 seconds in excitement, is astonishing.
I’m not concerned about those fine motor skills at all. Or their brains ability to process multiple commands at once. They’ve nailed it. And next time I start stressing about how much ‘screen time’ they have had I’m going to cut myself and them some slack.
There’s a silver lining to every Hunger Games universe.