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Minecraft Thoughts

emmagulley's picture

Once I finally began to get the hang of Minecraft, I was shocked by how demanding it really is!  The players on Youtube make the game seem incredibly easy, and I knew that young kids used the game in class, so I figured it couldn't be to hard.   But I was wrong.  I think it demands a lot of logic and lateral thinking from the player.  You need to manage time, use resources, and manipulate those resources in logical and practical ways.  

Prof. Lesnick, I know what you mean when you say, "when I "achieved" learning to make my first pickaxe in MC, I felt I'd accomplished something, learned how to do something." When I was able to make a "house" (i.e. shelter) for the first time and survive the night, I, too, felt like I had accomplished something and was proud of myself, even though I knew other players had achieved much more, and even though I knew it was "just" a game.  

I think what struck me about this dynamic was that it's sort of a solitary victory.   I had told my friend about the Minecraft assignment and texted her, "OH MY GOD FINALLY SURVIVED THE NIGHT I FEEL LIKE KATNISS EVERDEEN," and she replied, "...#blackmail" (meaning my text to her was embarrassing for me.)  So much of our dialogue surrounding online games like this is negative.  When I think of a "gamer" I think of a lonely, socially-awkward teenaged boy who hardly leaves his bedroom.  When I think of time spent online I generally think of time being wasted.  I'm not sure why that is--we all need downtime, we all need entertainment.  

I think my perception of playing Minecraft (or similar) won't change until society's larger perception does, too. I'm not sure why online games get the short end of the stick when it comes to society's perception of "time filler" games.  Minecraft really requires very similar skills to that of logic puzzles or crossword puzzles in terms of lateral thinking.  However, I think it has a very different connotation than logic/crossword puzzles and I think it seems like a much greater "waste of time."  Maybe part of that is generational--it always seems to drive older generations (who might use logic/crossword puzzles) crazy to see younger generations "not working" (as they play Minecraft.)  

But ultimately, I've learned A) that Minecraft really does require some not insignificant skills from the player, and, B) that its negative connotation is perhaps undeserved.  

I look forward to playing more Minecraft in the future and to continue to push my thinking regarding this complex situation of feeling reallife emotions regarding a virtual set of pixels.  Are those reallife emotions really just something to be embarrassed about?  Or can we potentially isolate them and hone them for good, both in- and out- of a classroom setting?


alesnick's picture

Katniss parallel!

I am smiling at this connection -- from feeling one has "survived the night" -- inside a game -- to comparing that to a fictional character!  Talk about intertextuality and the complex ways our imaginations work in the construction of our feelings and selves!  Also framing this is the cultural place of gaming, as you discuss.  Thanks for this rich, insightful post.  It makes me wonder how different pixels are from say, synapses . . . I mean, everything we are is connected to the pictures our brains give us about it, yes?  Brainstorming here . . .