The other day, my ten-year-old son’s faith in people took a huge hit.
This happens to us all, at around that age. Something completely crappy occurs, usually in the form of a classroom bully or nasty teacher. My son’s loss of innocence came from playing the single-biggest and fastest-growing game of our time … Minecraft.
Developed in 2009 and officially released in November 2011 by Swedish game programmer Markus Persson, Minecraft is a virtual world video game. Players converge from countries around the globe, creating various types of blocks in a three dimensional environment. The player takes an avatar that can destroy or create blocks, forming fantastic structures, creations and artwork across the various multiplayer servers in multiple game modes. Basically, you make stuff, which is the only reason I let my kid play it. I like that it’s not some mindless shooting game or a crash-em-up car race. He gets to create things, and feel a sense of accomplishment afterwards. I’ve sat and watched him a few times without falling down from boredom.
It’s cool, seeing him with his special tools, mining for material like iron, aluminium, diamond, digging footings and building his own houses. He synchronizes with two of his best mates to all choose a time to go on a server together. Which of course means that other people are in the game, playing alongside them.
People I don’t know. Strange people, playing in cyberspace with my son. FREAKY.
Strict rules are in place, like not being in conversation with anybody you don’t know, never answering personal questions. (None have been asked. Yet.) It’s a big thing, to let my child go online like this. I worry. For good reason.
I sat my kid down and told him that not everybody is who they say they are—hell, I find this in MY everyday life—and to be careful and keep his wits about him. He always plays in the same room as me, so I’ll often hear yelps and guffaws. Recently I heard him get very upset, really quickly. Pressing on the keyboards crazily. “I can’t believe this!”
I rushed over and watched as a gang of people destroying all of my sons work. Senselessly wrecking his house, killing his livestock—and trying to kill him. (They eventually succeeded.) He was in disbelief. “WHY? Why would people do this?”
He couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe that he couldn’t believe, and kept waiting for him to have an AHA moment of, oh that’s right. People are asses!
But he didn’t have an AHA moment, because he hasn’t learnt it, yet. He doesn’t know just how mean, nasty, and horrible people can be. Just for the sake of it. For kicks. I told him that no, it wasn’t fair. *Cue musical crescendo* … but that he could rebuild. He could bring his friends together and find new ways of building and creating their stuff. Maybe switch servers for a while. He was so bummed about it. Then had an epic idea of building something really cool right next to a trapdoor so the next time they came, he could attract them with something shiny and just push them in.
That’s my boy. Sweet, sweet revenge.
Days later he grew sad, again. I asked him if more people had destroyed his stuff, he shook his head.
“Nah …. I just got banned from the game for a while.”
Each character in Minecraft can choose clothes to wear, called “skins.” My guy thought he’d try cheer his pals up during the rebuilding process, and chose some Borat skins.
That’s Borat wearing his famous-yellow-swimsuit-skins.
I WAS SO VERY PROUD.