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What my son taught me about Minecraft

Ruth Ninajanty
Ruth Ninajanty

Mom blogger who enjoys everyday adventure with her son

Jakarta  /  Mon, May 9, 2016  /  04:52 pm
What my son taught me about Minecraft

Minecraft is a world full of blocks. Like our world, but everything is blocks and squares. (Shutterstock/Levent Konuk)

What’s Minecraft? Judging from my 10-year-old son’s expression, I’m sure I had asked the stupidest question in the world.

But I just have to ask, simply because among the games installed on his tablet, it’s the only one he paid for. He had fought for it and finally managed to get my brother to buy it for him as a Christmas present. I wanted to know – what made this game so special?

His answer was simple: “Minecraft is a world full of blocks. Like our world, but everything is blocks and squares.”

Imagine trees and animals made of bricks, easily built or destroyed with one tap on the touchscreen. Seems easy, but once you start playing, you realize there’s more than meticulous design and constant tapping in the game. You need to have endless imagination.

Players start with an empty surface consisting of different terrains; from jungle to savannah, from desert to snowy mountains. The game keeps a real-world day and night cycle, enabling players to encounter different creatures on different times. There are farm animals like chickens, pigs and cows, as well as hostile creatures like skeletons and zombies.

The zombies, Andrew said, aren’t scary because they are made of square bricks. So he believes that younger kids can also play the game without having nightmares and parents don’t need to worry. Once you’re done with one world, you move on.

(Read also: 5 movies to watch with your kids)

“You don’t have to destroy it, you can still make another thing in another world. You can save as much as you want. It’s infinity. Let me show you the mall I made in Minecraft,” he then took me to the world where he had replicated a shopping center from one of his zombie games; showing me the bathroom, the bookstore, even the secret passages he created between rooms.

The mall took him a few days to finish. “I want to make supermarkets and they don’t have carrots, so I pretend these bricks over here are carrots and those are spinach.”

Lately, Andrew has been doing more than just building; he’s doing research. Once we went to a mall and encountered a Lego exhibition, he would stare through the glass, memorizing the building structures and occasionally take pictures with his tablet.

When I asked what he was doing, he simply said, “I want to combine this part of this building here with the tower from that building in Minecraft.”

But the game is pointless, I argued. There are no goals, no levels and what you do isn’t far from building or destroying something. Yes, there’s the lava on the mountains you have to stop from ruining your village and occasionally players have to overcome natural disasters like forest fires. Other than that? There aren’t any goals or tangible endings.

Yet kids are playing it day and night without showing the slightest hint that they’re bored with the game.

Andrew disagreed. “It’s not boring, Mom, because you make your own point, you make your own goal. It’s fun because you can create anything you want. You can make your own boss fight. In survival mode, you have to fight and eat to survive. It’s hard to achieve what you want and it takes time. But you can do anything in Minecraft.”

Still, as a working adult who deals daily with target sales and corporate goals, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to understand Minecraft.

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Mom blogger who enjoys everyday adventure with her son, Andrew. You're invited to join their dates at andrewandme.blogspot.co.id

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