I know there are some staunch Minecraft advocates about to read this post, and get all sorts of worked up because they love the damn game and have a list of reasons why it’s wonderful. If you are that person, stop reading now. I will admit, Minecraft has rewarding qualities, particularly when it comes to creative freedom, but that’s not what this post is about. It’s about how confusing it is to some parents (like me!), and the fact that regardless of its best qualities, many parents just don’t understand.
There are so many reasons children love the damn game, and most of those are the same reasons parents are left scratching their heads. Here are a few examples:
1. The Language of Minecraft
How do I even explain the language of Minecraft? My son gets with his friends, all of them a little pudgy and pasty, and they sit in his room and talk about noobs and enderman and giggle and snort, while I listen in and wish they’d just talk about baseball. I don’t even like baseball, and I don’t even play sports, but at least I know how to explain a strike and a home run. I want to be involved in my son’s life, but the moment he starts talking about Minecraft, I feel like he’s speaking Pig Latin. Half the time I have to ask him to explain a term, which leads to him explaining another term, and then another, and by the time I finally understand why he needed to destroy the ender dragon, half my afternoon is gone. Essentially, it’s gotten to the point where he talks, and I nod and silently pray that I didn’t just agree to buy some stupid add-on.
As if Minecraft wasn’t odd enough, there are literally a bazillion Minecraft YouTube stars that yack, yack, yack, in nerdy Minecraft inside jokes while playing the game, and Stampy Long Nose is the one I hear the most. But honestly, it’s not just about Stampy. This really goes out to anyone who has had to rip a tablet away from their child’s white-knuckled grip because they spent hours listening to some assclown on YouTube narrate Minecraft. And yes, I know that some of these guys make more in a month than I do in a year, and maybe that pisses me off a little bit, but this isn’t about money. It’s about sanity, and frankly videos of loud, irritating people lounging in basements playing Minecraft makes parents say shit like, “What’s the world coming to?” Which is horrible because that’s what our parents said, making us all feel old and outdated. The cycle is complete.
I don’t understand if Minecraft has nicotine in it, or what, but any parent with a Minecraft kid will understand the reality of how difficult it is to shut that game down. There are tears, and screaming, and fits. There is name-calling. I’ve seen it from my 9-year-old, and I’ve seen it from teenagers. Sometimes it feels like our real house could be over run by zombie pig men, and your child wouldn’t care, but if their Minecraft house has the same issue, the world just ended. To me, Minecraft looks like some sort of pixilated shit show, but obviously my son disagrees.
If you’ve ever tried to bond with your child by playing Minecraft with them, you know how important it is to keep a barf bag handy. Not that the game is gross or anything, it’s just disorienting. I’ve tried to play it a few times. I get dizzy and confused and end up spending most of the time stuck in some room holding a pickax. It’s usually then that my son laughs at me as if I’m some moron, rather than a college-educated 30-something with a mortgage and a closet full of polos. Then he takes over, his blue eyes moving side to side, in complete control of Steve’s every move, trying to get me to watch as if what he’s doing makes any more sense than when I was at the controls. “See dad? See!” I do not see. I never see…
5. Trying to understand it makes me more lost.
Like a good parent, when my son first started playing Minecraft, I tried to better understand the game by reading about it online — only it made me more confused. Here’s an example from an article titled “The Parents Guide to Minecraft,” “Minecraft is a sandbox style game created by Swedish programmer and gamer Markus ‘Notch’ Persson. […] The game is procedurally generated and focused on resource gathering, crafting items, building, and (at the player’s discretion) combat.” And then I went cross-eyed. Please keep in mind that I attended graduate school and work at a university. I’ve slogged through some complicated shit, but this is ridiculous.
Bottom line, kids get it, while most parents don’t. And the really sad part about all of this is that I always assumed I would get it. Not just Minecraft, but everything. Going into parenting, I never thought I’d say things like, “back in my day” or “why can’t you just play normal games” as if those weren’t some of the same annoying statements my parents said when I was young. Ultimately, this is parenting. This is the reality of getting older and trying to understand your children, while wishing they’d just do things you already understand.