My kids started playing Minecraft about a week ago and, last night, one of those children came downstairs crying because “I spent an hour digging in the earth and I found all these rare gems and one item I’d never even seen before that is obviously very special and rare and then I died and lost everything!”
This child said, “I know it’s just a game but it’s so frustrating.” I patted and soothed and then reached out on Facebook to see if this was a normal reaction to Minecraft and all the moms chimed in and said that – yes – Minecraft ends in tears for most children.
I decided that I would play so that I could better understand what was happening to my kids. I downloaded the pocket version and selected “Survival” and then let the game create “My World.”
I asked the kids for some advice as I wandered the grassland, running into trees because I couldn’t seem to walk properly. Every time I tried to turn, I scuttled sideways like a crab. The kids said, “Mom, you have to chop wood first.” I managed to walk up to a tree and chop. I chopped and chopped like a crazy woman. I was a genius at chopping wood! Miguel was like, “Stop chopping wood, Mom! You’ve spent too much time on that!” Zeca yelled, “They’ll be coming for you soon!” I chopped some more and Miguel said, “MOM! You have to build a house before dark or they’ll kill you!” He coached me through making a crafting table and I was so good at making crafting tables that I made 7! “NO, MOM! You’re wasting your wood! You need to make planks for the house!” Then, I made planks and then there was movement in the distance and Miguel grabbed my phone and built me a quick little house. Zeca said, “Stay in there until daylight. Don’t go outside.”
At that point, I had a sword and a pickaxe and a bunch of extra wood. I felt pretty good so, when my kids wandered off to watch the Olympics, I went outside. In the dark.
That’s when I saw the chicken and, suddenly, I understood Red from Orange Is The New Black.
I wanted that chicken.
I yelled, “I found a chicken!” Both kids came running and Miguel said, “Ok, kill the chicken and then get back in the house!” I ran after the chicken and tapped it and tapped it again and I killed it! I had killed my own food! And right then, in my moment of victory, something weird came out of nowhere and starting beating the hell out of me.
Miguel patted me on the back and said, “Respawn. You’ll start again but you’ve lost everything.”
“What do you mean everything? I just killed a chicken. I should have a chicken!”
“No, mom. You lose everything when you die – all your tools, weapons, wood. Your chicken is gone.”
The game really is quite unfair but I was determined so I respawned but I was in a totally new place. I had no idea where I was so I didn’t have my house. I said, “Where’s my house?!” Miguel patted me again and said, “Who knows? Just build a new one.”
Dejectedly, I wandered and cut wood and then it started getting dark and I panicked – panicked like this was real life! Being outside in the dark before had led to the chicken fiasco and death so I ran. I didn’t know where I was running but I ran as fast as my pixellated feet would carry me and then I saw a giant black spider with red eyes and a weird green thing and I knew nothing good was going to come of those so I just kept running and they chased me and then – I saw my house! I cannot even tell you the relief I felt…until I couldn’t get through my door because I still wasn’t good at walking through small places. While I bumped into the wall repeatedly, something kept shooting me in the back and, by the time I got in the house and shut the door, I had only three little hearts left.
I asked the kids how to get my hearts back and they told me to eat or sleep so I needed to kill a chicken, pig or cow and I needed to kill three sheep for a bed.
“Can I just leave the door open and hope an animal wanders in and I can kill it because going outside hasn’t worked well for me?”
Zeca said, “Yeah but that’s probably never going to happen. You would have to herd them into your house. You still have to go outside.”
I waited for daylight and then I went out and I found a sheep and killed it but I am obviously a slow hunter because it started to get dark again so I started running home and, when I got there, Zeca said, “Mom! You left the door to your house open! You have to close the door always! Creepers will get in!”
But the house was empty and the pixellated version of me is hiding in there still.
Should I keep playing?