I was first introduced to Minecraft by a student. “I built you a math stage!” he announced during a private tutoring session, “It’s a theater for you do to math in, because you love math so much!”
I will admit, when I first downloaded the game, merely to use as an educational and motivational tool, I was underwhelmed. I just…chop down trees? And dig for stuff? How is this fun?
But as I used the game to teach arrays, fractions, and logic, curiosity got the better of me. One night, after coming home from teaching, I opened the game and clicked on “survival mode.” Instead of a plain world in which to build anything I wanted, I was plopped into the middle of the pixelated wilderness, with nothing but the clothes on my body.
Minecraft is an open-ended survival game. There are goals and challenges to complete. Secret lairs and dungeons to discover, but you can just as easily spend your time farming and raising pigs or creating a herd of rainbow-dyed sheep. So as I chopped down my first tree, the possibilities were endless.
After playing by myself for a while, I began to get lonely. So I found Vikki, who
became addicted to downloaded Minecraft after watching her son come down the stairs in tears after a particularly terrible gaming night. Vikki and I met in front of a pumpkin patch on a private server I begged my husband to build, and it was almost as good as being with her in person. To this day, there’s something wonderful about seeing her pixelated blue hoodie walk my way, knowing that my friend is practically within imaginary arm’s reach.
Together, we built a town. We farmed and mined, creating something from nothing. And slowly, other parents joined in on the fun. We battled an incessant monster infestation, built fountains that resulted in our own drownings, and laughed at the arrows in each other’s butts. Jessi explored, Lizz built a house (that I filled with chickens on her birthday), and Addye braved it outside the city walls. We now have a hot tub, a diner, and an armory, along with sheep of every color, and a clubhouse to rival even the most exclusive. And as of this week? Momcraft even has a dad.
And though Vikki and I have graduated to a more public server (complete with a gold-based economy, stadium for games and shenanigans, and teenage players who can build circles around us), we long for the good ol’ days, where newbie parents battled the virtual elements together. We have both found ourselves growing closer to our kids because of a shared love for the game, and I’m so grateful for both the fun and perspective Minecraft have provided.
As an educator? I love the open-ended structure, the problem solving, the spacial reasoning, and the circuitry the game presents to players. As a mom, I love that I have something I can play with my almost-six-year-old – not too violent and not too hard. And as a gamer? I love the fun.
Unless, of course, a creeper blows me up while I’m carrying 3 stacks of gold and the enchanted infinity bow I *just* made on my anvil. Then, you’ll probably see me slam my laptop down in solidarity with all the 8-year-olds out there. Like I said, perspective.
Wanna join us? Want to try the game out before deciding if it’s right for your kids? Want to see why your children are screaming at the computer screen and have tears rolling down their cheeks because of a “zombie pig man?” Come say hello in our closed Face Book group or leave a comment below!
I promise, you don’t need to know a thing to play. You just need a computer, the game, and a username. We’ll take care of the rest!