Minecraft for Parents

First, let’s clear up that slightly ambiguous title…
This is not a post explaining Minecraft *to* parents… the Wikipedia page has a pretty good summary and you can always find videos of actual play on Youtube.
I’m also not going to go into depth on whether you should let your child play Minecraft. As long as they’re old enough to understand what they’re doing (6ish?) it’s a pretty inoffensive game. The only element of any concern is some mild violence and it really is mild; you hit a pig with your sword, it falls over and turns into a pork chop… unless you’re a hardcore vegetarian, it’s not a problem. You should be cautious about what servers your child is on if playing online, but that’s good advice for any game with an online element.

With all that preamble out of the way, this post is really for parents whose children have Minecraft and who are thinking about giving it a try themselves. First off… you should absolutely give it a try. Unless gaming is really not your thing (and I’m assuming you would know that), the first few steps of Minecraft are pretty fun. This is mostly down to some rapid progress within the game; I spent my first night in a literal hole in the ground, quickly upgraded to a luxurious hovel and then into a fairly extensive cave complex. Your equipment also upgrades pretty fast from a wooden pick (which, let’s face it, is just a funny shaped stick), to a stone axe and then an iron sword… one wonders why our ancestors made such a song and dance of it.
Crucially, each of these achievements only requires a short amount of actual gameplay… 15 minutes is enough to do something new; discover iron ore and smelt it, gather some wool and craft a bed, clear out a nearby cave (actually, that would have taken a lot longer than 15 minutes if my son hadn’t wandered past and explained how to stop skeletons from spawning over and over). This means that you can play pretty casually and feel like you’re getting things done.

I now find myself running out of quick things to do and have started looking at the longer term. I’m quite creative enough to entertain myself within the context of the game (and even if I wasn’t, there are plenty of suggestions online), but anything that I might try now is going to take a great deal of dull work before it pays off. Back in my youth, this would not have been an issue – if Minecraft had existed when I was at university, it’s entirely possible I wouldn’t have graduated – but these days I have kids during the day, a wife during the evening (she’s around during the day as well… she’s not nocturnal) and a to read/watch/play list as long as my arm (even when written in fairly small handwriting).
Obviously, I can’t speak for all parents everywhere, but I’m guessing that I’m not in an unusual situation here. I have heard rumours that there are parents who do have spare time, but I’m guessing their kids have moved out, in which case, they’ve presumably taken Minecraft with them anyway. In any case, after the first three or four hours, you’re going to have to either knuckle down or slack off.

So, in conclusion, if your children are into Minecraft then you should definitely have a little play, if only so that you know what they’re talking about when they bang on about it for hours at a time, but maybe do it in bite-sized chunks for a week or two, then quietly retire yourself from it, so that your spouse stops mouthing the word “divorce” at you.

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