My son, who is now almost 15, liked Minecraft when he was younger.
I say liked. It was more like it drove his entire life, but as he lived at his mum’s house, I didn’t really see it in action.
Now, however, my six year old has discovered it and is equally besotted. She’s also bloody good at it.
For those who don’t know, and there can’t be that many of you, Minecraft is basically a computer version of Lego. It’s advantages over real Lego are that the blocks are unlimited, the blocks can actually do things, and when you’ve created a world, other people can log on and explore it.
I installed it for her, and showed her the basics. She pottered away and, shortly after, called me over to take a look at something she’d made. My jaw hit the floor.
How Did You Learn That?!
She had made a full drive-through restaurant, with road, and a neighbouring hotel with rooms and working lights. Working bloody lights. I couldn’t believe she’d done all that. This wasn’t from what I’d taught her. It was far more advanced, with working switches that did things when you hit them.
“How did you learn how to do all of this?” I asked. “Kids Youtube”, she told me.
The resourcefulness of this impressed me a great deal. I’d provided a blank page and she’d filled it with creativity and technical prowess. At the age of six.
Santa brought her Minecraft for the Xbox, which was infinitely smoother than the version on the old laptop, and on a much bigger screen too. The Xbox’s controllers were much easier for navigation & construction, and multi-play was also possible. It meant that daddy could get in on the Minecraft action.
Jenny wanted to build a school and for me to build a kid’s play-area next to it. It turns out that, in order to get trees, you plant saplings and wait. You get night and day in Minecraft, different weather, the sky changes colour at dusk and dawn and so on. So, we built and built. It was actually really enjoyable.
We built a balcony into the trees and, in front of it, a long lake with trees on either side. We then stood on the balcony as the sun set and enjoyed the view. It was striking in its blocky beauty.
Jenny and Eve both watch Minecraft videos on Kid’s Youtube, causing them to tell me about Crazy Craft, Furniture Mods, Little Kelly and all sorts of other things.
The tutorials are suitable for kids, free to access, and a lot of them both inspire and provide guidance on how to advance your own building. There are a massive amount of resources online, for free, to any aspiring Minecrafter.
I’ve even seen Jenny taking her own videos of her creations on the Xbox. Recently, she told me she wants to be a Youtuber when she grows up!
Minecraft isn’t a video game when it’s in creative mode. It’s a tool, or a toy. It promotes lateral thinking, creativity, inventiveness, forward planning and artistic / aesthetic considerations.
It’s virtually limitless, especially when you consider that there are scores of expansions, maps, skins, and modifications (mods) that can be added on to both the console and, to a greater degree, the PC versions.
There is literally no other game that I would be happy for my daughters to sit and play, without concern, for a lengthy period of time.