Minecraft has come back into my life, thanks to my 6-year-old grandson, King.
It has been a while. My last experience with the video game experience was one of both awe and a bit of trouble. Cohen, my oldest grandson who is now 15 and not playing a lot of Minecraft, taught me about it as I sat in the playroom at my house years ago and watched him play on the Xbox.
Cohen didn’t seem to mind my questions, and I enjoyed watching him both play and build the Minecraft worlds. What didn’t happen was an understanding of how it all worked and exactly what the goals of the game are.
I’m an old-timer when it comes to video games. I understand Pac Man eating all the dots to move to the next level. I understand overcoming all obstacles to try to rescue the princess from Bowser. Later, I even understood another of Cohen’s favorites, Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare, which was to basically keep the zombies out of the gardens.
Minecraft, however, is a bit different. The goal, best I can understand it, is simply to build houses/worlds, explore and survive.
While I will admit to having days where those goals made perfect sense, it remains a bit of a mystery to me. The bigger mystery, however, was when Cohen tried to teach me how to play it.
Whatever gene it is that my children and grandchildren were born with that allows them to hold controllers in both hands and perform on-screen tasks through a series of moving a knob while simultaneously clicking arrows and buttons and punching A, B, X and Y – well, it just didn’t make it into my DNA. I just can’t do it. I’m hand-to-eye challenged when it comes to joy sticks and controllers, and I really think there ought to be a ribbon for those like me so we can all moan together.
King has only been playing Minecraft for a few months, and he has built “worlds” and houses and Star Wars bases all over the Minecraft galaxy. He flies through chopping blocks and stacking blocks and spawning Stormtroopers. Just before I left Nashville, he found Baby Yoda (Grogu) who was hiding on Tatooine. “It makes sense, Gigi,” he told me in absolute delight. “Because I’m the Mandalorian.” Luckily, I am still enough of a Star Wars geek to know what that meant.
When Cohen was trying to teach me to play Minecraft several years ago, my husband insisted that all I needed was practice using the controllers. So, after Cohen went back to Seattle, I settled down at the Xbox and thought I would give it a whirl.
Somehow all I managed to do was completely destroy one of the great houses he had built. He forgave me, but I told King the story when he offered to let me have a turn on Minecraft.
He thought for a minute, then slipped the controller back out of my hand.
“When you’re ready, Gigi, we’ll build you a world that’s just yours,” he decided.
Wise choice, young Mandalorian. Letting a Gigi loose in your Minecraft world is probably not a good idea.
Sherri Gardner Howell has been writing about family life for newspapers and magazines since 1987. She lives in West Knoxville, is married to Neville Howell and has two sons and three grandsons.