Further Adventures in Minecraft

Way back when I first came across Minecraft (that’s a fun old post to read, actually–check it out), I thought it was fairly cool, but I wasn’t really convinced it was something I’d want to spend much time with. It was more a fascinating novelty that TRC might find interesting. I passed it off to him, and he really ran with it. The boy’s bought Minecraft books, asks for Minecraft clothes and merchandise, wants to go to MineCon–you name it. We’ve set up a server so he and his cousin in Texas (another Minecraft junkie) can play together, and it’s been fun watching them and their explorations. (Even more fun to listen to the conversations they have.)

DC has been out of the loop, though. She would get out the iPad edition of the game whenever TRC and his cousin would play, but she didn’t have a chance to play along in the same world with them. Late last week, I decided that needed to change. I want her to have the same cool chances TRC is getting, so I plunked down the $25 or whatever it was to buy a second Minecraft account. DC was overjoyed. Of course, she soon discovered that using a mouse and keyboard to move around and control things is a lot different than using the touch interface of an iPad. And different meant harder.

So she went back to the iPad version after some exploration. Not that she’s given up, but that she’s exploring the PC version a bit at a time. I’m completely okay with that.

It means I can play Minecraft in my son’s world, side by side with him. We’ve already had a few adventures. First off, he and I went deep into the mine beneath his house, exploring for items and monsters. There were some close calls, but we both ended up surviving to fight another day. I was really impressed with the sheer volume of knowledge he’s amassed about this game–what sort of items you need to make other things, the recipes involved–you name it. Getting into Minecraft can be a daunting experience, but TRC has thrown himself in whole-heartedly.

It’s also been interesting to see the different approaches he and I have at this point in our lives. I’m much more focused on working toward becoming sustainable in Minecraft. We need iron and diamonds to start making basic tools that can help us find more resources. We need food to be able to stay alive. Armor to protect us. So I’ve been approaching the game from that angle–working on getting the resources we need so that we can get better resources.

TRC is more about fearless exploration. He wants to get the minimum he needs to get farther into the game, and then continue building on that success to go deeper and tackle bigger problems. It’s the glass cannon approach. If he ever dies in the game, it’s going to be tricky to rebuild for him. He’ll lose a lot of progress. But at the same time, by risking more, he can advance much more quickly than I can.

At the same time, my old days playing Quake and Doom have proven handy, as I’m much more able to handle facing down the monsters in the game. I came across an Enderman (I guess one of the most fearsome creatures to encounter?) and I managed to kill it, getting an Endercrystal TRC was ecstatic about–since he could use it to build a portal to the Netherworld.

Honestly, I have no idea what half of what I just typed means. But I do know he was very impressed, and killing that monster for him made him very happy. I also know I love living in a world where I can do cool things like this with my family. Yay technology!

My current plan is to start work on a super secret underground lair when TRC isn’t in the game, then surprise him with it one day. There are a ton of resources online to show you how to do it all. I’m looking into making a wheat farm so that we can have a sustainable supply of bread, too.

I know some people disparage Minecraft for being nothing more than a virtual Lego set, but it’s so much more than that. It’s one thing to build a model of a tiny house. It’s another to be able to actually go inside it and live there, then use it as a base of operations to keep out the bloodthirsty zombies waiting outside to eat you alive.

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