Tuesday, July 10, 2012


This kid is obsessed.

(Photo by Ms. Autumn at Evergreen)

Satchel heard about Minecraft at school last semester and has been pretty much obsessed with it since. He and Jiro both have accounts and it is their #1 game of choice. Goodbye DS, goodbye iPod, goodbye Wii. It's all Minecraft, all of the time. As far as I can tell, and I can't tell much, it is like 3D Legos. They do a lot of building, which is actually pretty cool. There's a social element too. They furiously type to people while playing, and Satchel even talks to people on a headset. Skype is somehow involved. There are different servers, and maybe even worlds.

It can get pretty dramatic in a Lord of the Flies way. People "grief" each other. People get banned. I think you can kill other players too. There's some trading of things too because I've heard Satchel bribe Jiro out of a bad mood by offering him diamonds.

Satchel plays on our desktop and Jiro plays nearby on the sofa on my laptop. (Seriously my keyboard is so nasty now.) It is not uncommon to hear them strategize or even yell at each other. Sometimes it gets heated.

On the weekends, Satchel will actually set his alarm for 6am so he can get up early and play. And then at night I have to practically tear them away from the game. It's a little nuts. We definitely try and put limits on their play time, but with no camp to attend last week, and a somewhat activity free weekend, it got a little out of hand.

Also, Satchel decided he wanted to use his monthly allowance so that he could have his own server. I was impressed that he even knew how to do that. Well, that was the last nail in the coffin, so to speak. Running the server added a lot of stress to the game for Satchel. He needed time to set everything up and was very particular about who got on and who did what once they were there. Meanwhile, Jiro, who had declared himself co-owner, got very distressed by Satchel's control issues.

It was ugly.

On Saturday afternoon, Satchel came over to me and said, "Can we be grounded from Minecraft for a week?"

Warren and I were both ready to ground them, so this was an easy yes. I thought it was great that he knew when he needed a break, but I also felt guilty for letting it get to the point that he would want to ground himself.

Surprisingly, Jiro didn't even protest when he heard the news.

Satchel told me that he felt obsessed--we went through this last summer with some XBOX games--and that he just needed a break. He also said he needed help with the server and couldn't find anyone to help him. It was heartbreaking on a few levels.

On Sunday, not surprisingly, they were both bouncing off of the walls. I had definitely been taking for granted how occupied Minecraft kept them. We immediately went to the pool and burned off some energy. Later that night, Satchel looked at me and said, "I can still hear the Minecraft theme music in my head!"

Good grief.

By Monday, Satchel was asking if he could get back on Friday instead of Saturday, but I told him no. I think as the week progresses, the break is going to be harder and harder, but they need it and I'm sticking to my guns. And there's definitely going to have to be some serious time limits enforced.

Meanwhile, Warren is trying to interest them in a new activity that he's dubbed Yardcraft.

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