Parents Guide to Minecraft

 

Last Fall my boys were begging me to get Minecraft for them (or for me to put in a good word with Santa so that they could get it from him for Christmas).  I knew nothing about it and, to tell the truth, I still don’t fully understand it.

 

Anyway, I was able to get a deal on an XBox 1 with Minecraft during the holidays. (Note: if you can wait until the holidays, there are better deals to be had.  XBox 1 was on sale with Minecraft already installed, plus I got a free controller, which is key if both boys want to play the game at the same time.) On Christmas Day, they ripped it open and wanted to play it right away, of course.

 

If you’ve never installed a gaming system, it is not a 1-2-3 proposition.  Setting it up with cables and all that was easy.  Turning the game on and getting started took almost four (4) hours! It seems that video game consoles go through an updating process every time you turn them on.  So, on Christmas Day, the boys had to wait ­­hours to play the game.  If your twins have the patience most do, one option would be to turn the game on the night before and do the initial setup while wrapping presents. This way, when the kids open it up and want to play right away, it will be ready. The game is available on PC, Mac, XBox and iOS (iPad, iPhone, etc.)

 

I decided that there has to be hundreds millions of parents that are just as clueless as I was/am about this game that seems to be as popular as Pac-Man was a generation (or two) ago. That’s why I decided to interview my 9 year-olds, and create this Parent’s Guide to Minecraft.

 

 

 

What is Minecraft?

Markus “Notch” Persson, a Swedish gamer and programmer, developed and created Minecraft as a “sandbox” style game. (“Sandbox” means that the players can build things in a virtual 3D world.  The players gather resources, craft items, build and, at the player’s discretion, combat.  No, you don’t need 3D glasses.) He solicited and received input from other programmers and gamers to mold the game.  A company called Mojang further developed the game under Persson’s guidance.  Microsoft bought Mojang in 2014.

 

This description may sound rather esoteric, but the main reason I have come to appreciate the game is that there is no violence.  Players build stuff.  Of course, there are some variables involved, and some danger just to keep it interesting.

 

Modes

There are four modes in Minecraft:

Survival mode -where the player must work for and acquire resources (iron ore, wood, stone, bedrock, sand, etc.) to build the world and maintain health.

Creative mode -where players have unlimited resources to build with, (meaning they don’t have to work for them) plus the ability to fly.

Adventure mode -is very similar to Survival mode except it is the place where players can play custom maps created by other players and have to complete certain tasks to reach their destinations for resources.

Spectator mode -which your kids will never play because all you do is watch without interacting, hence the name.

 

My boys focus almost exclusively on Survival and Creative modes.  They actually prefer Creative though because (somehow) they actually don’t like working on and for things (just like their room or toys!).

 

But, wait there’s more.  LOTS more. (Caution!-Sit down before reading…My head is till spinning from the overload of information!)

 

There are creatures like: wolves, ocelots, creepers, skeletons, witches, villagers, zombies, etc.  (Too many details to go into in an article like this.)

There is also another place called, the “Nether” world.  It is only accessible by the Nether portal.  If there is a bed there, it will explode in the Nether and The End.  If, for some reason, the player(s) fall into lava and die in the Nether, they can respawn in the Overworld, but they lose anything (resources) they had accumulated in the Nether.

“The End” is the last dimension.  It is really dark in there and it is a spit of land floating in the blackness.  It is home of the Ender Dragon and if you fall off one of the islands, you die in Survival and Creatives modes.  You later respawn in Survival mode.  (My boys wanted me to write this part as they dictated it to me).

 

For a more complete description of the game, you can go to Wikipedia and search Minecraft as well as other websites.  Some go into more descriptions than others.  Essentially, they all describe the game in a similar vein, and probably leave you just as confused.

 

 

 

For Parents

I had no idea what I was getting myself into when buying Minecraft.  When I found out that other parents at my sons’ school had purchased it and my boys were talking about it, I decided to make the leap.  Minecraft is a great game for kids.  No violence, no sex, no bigotry or jealousy and it allows the boys to be creative and build things.

However, here it is, my caveats of Minecraft.  It is an obsessive game.  My boys talk about it constantly and beg to play it almost every day. My wife and I have limited their playing time.  They could easily play it 24 hours per day. We have restricted game play to Saturday and Sunday for two-hour increments, and never on school nights. (That does not preclude them, however, for asking for more.)

 

There is also a sense of rivalry or competition between the boys.  They don’t always agree on how to do things or build things or where to go, etc. I think that’s fine, but if it gets acted out physically, like pushing or shoving, I turn the game off.

 

We have yet to allow access to the Internet, so they cannot play with other kids.  As they become older, and more mature and responsible (hopefully, someday), we will reconsider our restrictions.  If you want to open that gateway, I suggest setting up your own server so that you can control who they play with, i.e., kids they know.

 

My other main concern about the game is how they play.  Right now, they are playing and standing right in front of the TV.  We don’t like that because they are way too close to the TV which is supposedly bad for you and with the way they are standing, it could set up bad posture for them.

 

Believe it or not, there are books written on how to play Minecraft.  Of course, our boys had to have those, at least, some of those we conceded on.  Playing the game was new to them, as  it will be with yours, so I would suggest doing some research.  You can buy books or even watch videos on how to build things on YouTube.  This is a great opportunity to share time with your kids by getting involved with their learning process. (Be careful of the YouTube videos.  Some of them include harsh language and adult references.)

Thoughts

Some other things I’ve heard and seen around the Internet about Minecraft:

  • Parents do not understand what’s going on at any particular point in time.

I don’t see any other way around that other than learning the game yourself.

  • Minecraft CAN require more complex skills as the game progresses.

This is true. I can see where, if a child is too young, the game could get overwhelming for them. It may be difficult to make the right decisions or they may need better motor skills. This may be discouraging for younger players, so keep that in mind when deciding if Minecraft is right for your kids. 

  • Playing Minecraft can be intense.

This is probably true, especially for younger kids.  Scary sounds and monsters and even death, in its own form, do exist.  If things like these worry you, I recommend  playing in Survival mode with difficulty set to Peaceful.  You can also have them play in Creative mode where there are no monsters.  Our boys were 8 when they got the game.  They seem pretty o.k with it, but every child and situation is different.

  • It is easy to lose time playing Minecraft.

Yes, of course, but that’s probably true for all video games.  

  • Playing with other people across the internet can be dangerous.

Need I say more.  

 

The Bottom Line

Buy it.  Learn it.  Play it.  Enjoy it.  Monitor your kiddies.   Be aware.

-Special thanks to our boys who have read this article and given their “thumbs-up” to it.-

 

This article was originally published on FathersofMultiples.com – link = Parents Guide to Minecraft

5 Traits I Want My Boys to Have

My twin boys are now 8.

 

They have started to develop physically and mentally to become the men they will be, and my main job is to keep them alive during this process.  My second order of duty is to help them prepare for adulthood.  I also want to instruct them on the complexities of life and not only how to prepare for them, with age-appropriate instruction and modeling, but with verbal coaching.

Everybody has the virtues or character traits they would like their children to have, i.e., courage, strength, determination, honesty, hard work, etc.  Those are all good traits and if my boys can learn those things, they will be ahead of the game.  However, I have narrowed my list to these top 5.  I believe that these will provide the foundation for the other traits as well as many challenges and/or opportunities in life.

These are not in any particular order:

  1. Empathydef. the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

As the US and the world become smaller and more diverse, Empathy will become key to getting along with others around the world.  On a smaller scale and closer to home, having empathy is (what I call) a magnetic trait.  People are drawn to people who they feel understand or feel for them.  The downside risk to empathy is that some people will be drawn to you who are not good for you.  However, the upside potential is that people ultimately like to do business and be around people who appreciate them.  I realize it is a balancing act.  Mistakes will be made.  I’ve made them.  Nevertheless, I feel that if my boys can appreciate, understand, and share the feelings of another, it will set the stage for positive and successful relationships personally and professionally.

 

  1. Resiliency def. the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties.

Disappointments, frustrations, losses, and failures will occur in life.  Because of this, it is imperative that my boys learn how to deal with them and get over them successfully.  I believe this trait will probably be the key to success in any journey or activity that the boys undertake.  My modeling for them is to not get frustrated when difficulties occur.  Sometimes, that’s easier said than done, but I try to show them that with resiliency and its accompanying trait of adaptability, I can figure out or overcome whatever obstacles I meet.

 

  1. Actiondef. the fact or process of doing something, typically to achieve an aim.

I don’t like the term “hard work”. I think it’s overrated and misleading.  Even if you work hard, you may not achieve something, but you still have to take some sort of action.  There is a saying, “Even God can’t move a parked car.”  Whatever you want, you will have to take some action to get, achieve, or produce the desired goal.  The action may not be one task, but a series of tasks or actions -or even a whole process.  But, definitely, nothing happens until you take action.

 

  1. Independencedef. not influenced or controlled by others in matters of opinion, conduct, etc.

As Hamlet said, “To thine ownself be true, and thou canst then be false to any man.”  I want my boys to be able to think for themselves and not be dependent on anyone to make any decisions for them.  Strength, courage, and integrity come to mind as accompanying qualities, but I believe that with independence, they will learn and trust that their opinions, viewpoints, or beliefs are valid and they will not seek unnecessary validation from outside sources.

 

  1. Positive Mental Attitude

Positive mental attitude is the philosophy that having an optimistic disposition in every situation in one’s life attracts positive changes and increases achievement. Optimism and hope are vital to the development of PMA. So, there you have it.  Optimism and hope, two of the biggies, but they are companions, if not byproducts, with PMA on the journey of life.  Nobody likes to be around “sour-pusses.”  Everybody feels better with positive people than negative people.  I actively try and teach my boys to be positive in all situations and while it does not necessarily guarantee success in any endeavor, it makes the activity easier to sustain and easier to share with like-minded individuals.

 

These qualities are foundation qualities for all the others.  There are qualities which other people may find more necessary for leading a successful and harmonious life. These just happen to be mine.

I did not add Love because even though it is the greatest quality or feeling a person can have, it is not necessarily a character or personality trait to cultivate (in my opinion).  I can show the boys Love, by loving their mother or my work. (Hey… stop laughing…the second one can happen.)

Also, these traits can overlap.  Resiliency can come from Action taken.  PMA complements, well, all the others.  Empathy and Independence, though not overlapping, are also complementary.

Some other traits did not make the list, not because they aren’t worthwhile in possessing or pursuing, but because I kept the list short at 5.  If I were to add 5 more, off the top of my head they would be:: dedication, dependability, compassion, patience, honesty.

 

Finally, I asked my boys which 5 traits they think they should have.  Here are their responses:

Happiness – like you’re on a trampoline, you can have stuff you like bouncing around with you, like a dog…

Madness – because whenever you feel mad, you can just “be mad” (crazy mad) (their words)

Extreme Toughness – being tough and standing up to bullies. If the bullies do something physical, you can defend yourself without even trying

Smilish – so that you can smile most of the time

Friendly  – to have lots of friends that stand up for you and to play with…

Ok, so our answers are little different.  Remember, they are only 8.                         I guess I have my work cut out for me.

 

This article was originally published at FathersofMultiples.com.   Here is the link: Fathers of Multiples.

#ThinkBIGSundayWithMarsha

 

It was a dark and stormy night….

No, the sun shot lasers of heat unto the desolate pavement…

Ok, how about, I started a blog a couple of years ago and I’ve been “doing” social media and then, somehow, I came across The Real Marsha Wright.

Blogging is a great release for me emotionally, a great outlet for me creatively and a fun thing to do, i.e., telling stories about my twin boys, whom I affectionately call, Anarchy and Chaos (among other things:).

But, one thing I never expected from writing, and subsequently sharing through all the social media channels, is that about 160 million of my closest friends are all doing the same thing!

And they are all very good blogs. I’ve read and felt the trials and tribulations in all of them. I almost exclusively read parenting blogs, mostly daddy, but a lot of mommy blogs, too.

Of course, I joined Twitter. I had heard a lot of things about it, but had never really experienced the Twitter-verse. It is what it is. Yes, there are a lot of trolls and what seems like millions of “people” (and I use that term generously) to jump on you for whatever innocuous thing you may have said.

BUT, then there are the good people. Ones who genuinely want to spread positivity and humanness. I like these people. Inspiration comes in many shapes and forms in this life whether it’s the firefighter saving lives, the vet saving rescued animals, the daddy saving his young kids from imminent doom of bike-riding or even, the inspiration from positive messages in social media and the Twitter-verse. Maybe not the same level of things, but I’ll take inspiration any way I can get it, especially on social media and Twitter.

Inspiring is a key word for The Real Marsha Wright. While she may not be “saving” people from impending danger, she does serve up inspiration in her weekly tweets. #ThinkBIGSundayWithMarsha. I am a regular reader and contributor every week.

While my focus is on men and/or daddy stuff or my other creative outlets like YouTube, I also try to spread positivity through my tweets. I got the idea from Marsha of course. She probably wants a percentage of all the money I make from my tweets, but, of course, in the Twitter-verse, there is no money. But, there is positivity and The Real Marsha Wright.

I will someday take her up on her offer of using her services. Who can argue with half-a-million followers? And she retired at age 32! For now, though, I look forward to the weekends for her tweets and re-tweets (RTs) of positive messages.

Because, in the end, I want to be known as a positive influence on people, known or touched, whether in person or on social media. Thanks, Marsha, for inspiring me both in business and in the Twitter-verse. Keep up the good work! We all need it. We need you.

Sincerely,

Jeff Jackson