Tag Archives: computer games

Love Spawned…Embracing the Great Minecraft Challenge.

Love is a seed. For love to keep growing and ultimately survive, you have to keep watering it. That’s the hard part. Keeping up all that boring maintenance…especially long after all the flowers have died and what’s left of the plant should be kept well and truly out of sight until next spring.

I don’t know about you but I’m not good with all that long term, routine kind of stuff.  As much as I love gardening and all my pretty flowers, I must confess that I’ve had quite a few plants die of thirst right next to a tap and I’ve felt so bad!!

You would think that I could make that very small effort to give them a drink, especially when I didn’t even need to go out of my way?!!

Yet, sometimes even those small, seemingly painless steps are too much even for the strongest and deepest kinds of love which go way beyond seeds, plants and gardening and involve the very people we love and cherish the most.

For me, learning to play Minecraft was about watering these seeds and nurturing our family, knowing full well that it would catapult me right out of my comfort zone and dump me into hostile, crocodile infested waters. Snap! Snap! You’re gone!

I have to admit that I was quite terrified of playing Minecraft, especially after my introduction last week. It was nothing like Space Invaders. Nothing like Space Invaders at all!

I’m not going to go into the ins and outs of Minecraft because you can Google that or check it out on Wikipedia. That’s what you do when you want to learn a new computer game, isn’t it? Apparently, it’s not. Most people actually play the game and don’t feel compelled to write about it either. It’s just me.  Geoff said this proved that I didn’t “get” Minecraft or I’d be playing it instead (and hooked on it like the rest of the family!!)

Well, he has a point!

When my great Minecraft challenge began, it reminded me of arriving at the dentist knowing I was about to have root canal. I sat in my chair and the iPad was put on my lap. As much as I knew it was going to hurt, I knew the alternative would be far worse (something like tying a piece of string around the offending tooth and slamming the door shut without any form of anaesthetic.)  I had to go through with it. Waves of panic completely overwhelmed me. I’d been catapulted so far out of my comfort zone and wanted to boomerang back there again. But writing about doing things with your family is no substitute for spending time together. I just had to do it. Embrace all those horrible, uncomfortable feelings and walk with them hoping that as time went by, I would somehow feel more at home.

The trouble with Minecraft is that is involves a number of my weaknesses and while working on these would ultimately help them to improve, getting to that point is hard, frustrating work. It’s like scaling Mt Everest using your bare fingernails and who doesn’t want to avoid that kind of stress?

It wasn’t just a matter of learning Minecraft. I didn’t know how to operate the iPad either. Not that it should have been that difficult because it is like my mobile phone. However, trying to learn Minecraft at the same time, seemed to compound my difficulties and the whole thing felt crushingly difficult. I was freaking out. I have no shame. I really am one of those old dogs who doesn’t like new tricks.

However, as Mister so kindly pointed out: “Mummy, you can’t runaway from Minecraft. It’s coming after you.”

He was right. I persevered. I embraced the terror and kept going. That said, I did have the timer going. I was going to be playing Minecraft all day!!

Anyway, I made some interesting observations during my time in Minecraftland:

Firstly, if you keep focusing on your feet, you have no idea where you’re going. A few times, I was wondering why I couldn’t get through a doorway when I was actually bashing my head against a dirt wall. It always helps to see the bigger picture.

Secondly, beware of the power of touch. I would be tapping on the screen trying to open or close a door and instead, I accidently dumped a mound of dirt in my tracks. I also accidently bashed a few holes in the wall with my wooden pick axe. Such acts of wanton vandalism aren’t usually appreciated by the other players.

Thirdly, despite being in a virtual world, you are still “you”. With my poor sense of direction and spatial reasoning, I get hopelessly lost in real life and the same applied in Minecraft and it felt just as awful. I was constantly lost, which felt really, really unnerving. Nobody likes getting lost even if it is just “a game”.

A few times I wondered what on earth I was doing in my lost state and Geoff would call out: “where are you?” I was so lost that I’d somehow become “beyond lost”.

Anyway, I just found a story I read about rescuing missing bushwalkers and it gave me a bit of insight into my “lost” behaviour:

“They say to find a missing bushwalker you first have to try to think like one. “We try to get in to the psychology and understanding what common mistakes people would make while they are walking. People do unusual things when they are lost,” said rescuer Caro Ryan.

People will unintentionally make themselves more lost. They will make decisions you don’t usually make.[1]

Geoff must have picked up on this because it didn’t take long for him to suggest: “Follow me!” It was as close as he could get on Minecraft to actually holding my hand. He was protectively and encouragingly lead me not only through the house we’d built but also though the minefield which had become Minecraft. There was so much to learn.  I had to follow him very, very closely and he really looked out for me too which was nice.

I also learned that the kids don’t close doors in Minecraft just like in the real world. In real life, they let the dog out and in Minecraft, they let the creepers in. Grr!

Yet, probably what I appreciated most is what it actually takes to get someone you love to take on your interest to a point where they can truly understand and enjoy it, join in and want to do it again. You need to put yourself in their shoes and somehow walk at their pace even if it might be excruciatingly slow to the point of irritation. You might need to steps down into bite-sized chunks or even micro-bites so they can pick it up and feel they can do it. You want them to feel good about what they’re doing! When I was lost and Miss took me off on a wild goose chase leaving me vulnerable to the creepers, Geoff firmly explained to her that if you want Mummy to play again, you want her to have a good experience. Enjoy it and want to come back.

Harper Lee summed this up pretty well in To Kill A Mockingbird:

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”

DSC_6402

Big shoes…Little Feet.

Another thing I found interesting was juggling the balance between caution and risk. In Minecraft, you need to build defences to protect yourself from the creepers but you also want to actually do some stuff.  The first time I played, I found myself a nice deep tunnel and stayed inside. I was surrounded by stone walls on almost all sides and I was very safe but I was doing nothing. I was just sitting there in the dark waiting for the sun to rise. With all that waiting, the iPod went to sleep and disconnected from the server. This meant I’d lost all my tools etc and had to start over.

Being so safe was also pretty boring. It was like when you’ve found a really good hiding spot in Hide & Seek that you’re still hiding there when everyone else has moved onto the next round. It gets a bit boring after awhile. Beign so safe was pretty boring and I did start wondering whether it would be more fun outside chasing creepers instead…even if I died!  Besides, you don’t actually die in Minecraft. You respawn but you come back with nothing and have to start over.

Lastly, I don’t really see the excitement in doing all these virtual jobs on Minecraft. Even virtual jobs feel like too much hard work. Moreover, if Geoff and the kids enjoy all those jobs so much, they should get started on the house but I guess real work doesn’t quite have the same appeal.

I don’t think they’ll ever make a gamer out of me but at least I’m having a go. I’m watering the seeds. You never quite know what is waiting around the corner and when those few minutes of my time might actually make the difference.

Moreover, by seeing me attempt to do something I find difficult, it shows the kids to persevere, keep fighting and as Pink so aptly put it to: “Try! Try! Try!”

xx Rowena


[1][1] The Sydney Morning Herald, February 23-24, 2013 pg 11.

Anything for Love… the Great Minecraft Challenge.

Would you do anything for love? Anything at all? Whatever it takes?

Or do you, like Meatloaf, have an exclusion clause:

“I’ll do anything for love but I won’t do that.”

Stop! Pause. You can lie to me but you can’t lie to yourself. Well, not for long!

What is your “that”? Where do you draw the line? What are the boundaries to your love?

“I love you but…”

You’ll often hear people say: “I’d do anything for my kids”. But do they really mean it?

I don’t think so.

I’m no saint.  I am just as guilty. I’m writing this blog post at the kitchen table on a Saturday morning while our son is trying to talk to me and give me some more advice on how to play Minecraft, which he lives and breathes at the moment. So while I’m writing about doing anything for love, I’m lost in my own little world writing and not really listening to my boy.

Shame! Shame! Shame!

But at least I’m honest. I wouldn’t give up my writing for anything and I don’t think I could stop writing even if I tried. Writing is like breathing to me. It’s part of who I am. It’s etched into my DNA.

However, I acknowledge that you can pay a high price for being a writer and that can include being permanently left on your Pat Malone (I’m not sure whether that phrase is an Australianism but it means being all on your own). There is that mystical balance between belonging and being part of the herd and needing time to yourself. I am quite a people person so I do try to structure most of my writing around times around when I’m home alone so it doesn’t interfere with my relationships but you can’t always control when creativity strikes. It’s like falling in love…that sudden coup de foudre. Bang! The muse strikes and I’m her captive slave. I quickly get it down before the words fly out the window and scatter in the wind. Naturally, I do this for the greater good. You never quite know what kind of impact such inspiration might have. It could actually change the world and it would be a shame for these precious words of wisdom to go to waste.

Anyway….

Aside from giving up my writing, I am making the ultimate personal sacrifice. I have promised the rest of the family that I will learn to play MInecraft, their favourite computer game. For me this represents some serious selling out because I’m ideologically opposed to computer games just like I’m opposed to Barbies and kids playing with guns. I obviously have no moral fortitude though  because a few years ago, I bought our daughter a crate with around 20 Barbie dolls, clothes and shoes for the grand total of $20.00 at a garage sale. I have also bought our son a few of those Nerf guns. That just leaves the computer games. Well, I’ve already fallen off that wagon. I had a good dose of Mario Kart Wii when I was crook the Christmas before last and all I seemed to do was crash and dive off the edge. I’m surprised the kids ever let me drive them to school again.

Personally, I’d say having to play computer games goes well and truly beyond the call of love. They’re bad for you: addictive, anti-social and the main cause of the childhood obesity epidemic. I don’t think anyone would call me a bad mother for taking a stand here.

However in our household, I’ve now been dubbed “the snob” because I’m the only one who can’t play Minecraft. Today my daughter asked me why I don’t play Minecraft. I was strangely speechless. The rest of them love it and they play joint games together and rather than being anti-social, it actually brings them together and they are learning valuable life skills such as working as a team, respecting each other’s property, problem solving and they are also learning how to make things. They are also learning that there are bad things in this world and how to take precautions and protect themselves and stay safe…and alive!

These are excellent life skills. The sort of thing you used to learn at Brownies or Scouts.

Anyway, in kids’ speak, I’d actually made a promise and had to follow through. A promise is a promise…especially as I’m expecting the rest of the family to play the violin which is my language and it’s only fair that I learn to speak theirs. I also get the feeling that it’s very important that I learn to speak their language to remain a part of their world in the same way my mum eventually learnt to send an email and tackled her own technology challenge. She dived into the great unknown and now it’s my turn.

After all, playing Minecraft isn’t going to kill me…at least, not in real life!

But there is more to my resistance towards playing computer games than just intellectual snobbery. I can’t actually play them. I am fine using a computer for all the usual word processing type functions but I get completely stumped when it comes to anything even vaguely technical. I even struggle to operate our new fangled TV set with its state-of-the-art all-in-one remote. I’ve had to ring Geoff quite a few times at work to bail me out. This is actually quite embarrassing because in real life I’m the marketing manager for a local IT company. I should know better.

I’m also stuck in some weird kind of time warp. For me, computer games mean Space Invaders or Gallaga. Yes, I know they’re oh so retro but there’s nothing wrong with being an 80s chick.

I’ve just been accused of writing about Minecraft instead of actually playing the game so on that note, wish me luck. I’m off to encounter the creepers.

xx Rowena

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