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The Hobbyist: How my thinking changed after binge-playing Minecraft

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By Andy Stettler
astettler@21st-centurymedia.com
@andystettler on Twitter
About two years ago I learned exactly how video games can be educational. I had just finished up what accumulated to about five hours (with a lunch break) of Minecraft one weekend when I had to run some errands.
In those days my wife worked weekends and I’d often game with my friends who live all over North America, including Canada, for almost the entire eight hours she was gone except for maybe the last hour when I would quick clean the house, go grocery shopping and start making dinner.
“You cleaned!” my wife would laugh happily when she came home not knowing I’d spent my day planted securely to my DXRacer chair, an outrageously comfortable chair that has erased back pain brought on from my office chair.
I realized the impact Minecraft had on me when I was sitting at a red light on my way to the grocery store and noticed a building to my left. First I noted the bricks and wondered how the bricks had been made.

Minefaire goers build Minecraft mobs, torches, trees and other objects with Legos. (Andy Stettler/Ticket)

Minefaire goers build Minecraft mobs, torches, trees and other objects with Legos. (Andy Stettler/Ticket)

In Minecraft you mine a clay block, usually found near rivers or lakes, break it down into smaller pieces of clay and cook them in your oven.
Before the light could turn green, I had imagine the building’s rough framing, plumbing, electrical and HVAC being installed. Then the drywall, the fixtures and interior trim and, hey, I wonder how they crafted the sidewalk.
“HONK!” The light was green and I had to get back to the real world.
According to a June 2016 stat from Mojang, the company that developed Minecraft, “If each person that bought a copy [of Minecraft] formed a nation, it would be the 12 most populous in the world behind Russia, Japan and Mexico.”
That’s quite a stat considering the Minefaire convention that came to the Greater Philadelphia Convention Center in Oaks this past weekend.
According to Minefaire officials, the convention set a Guinness World Record for the largest convention for a single video game with 12,140 people attending.
I went Sunday and though I wish I had brought my 9-year-old nephew, it was fun to see what’s big in the Minecraft community in 2016.
Family’s lined up for the virtual reality Minecraft experience which was a huge hit and while one player told me she could see the VR headset getting annoying, another 10-year-old said he thought the mobs are “really very spooky” in the VR version.
The best part of the event, in the opinion of this 20-something gamer, was the parent-child gaming area where a Minefaire official encouraged parents to sit down with their child and “let them show you what they’ve learned in Minecraft.”

Kids were told to show their parents "everything they've learned about Minecraft" during Minefaire Sunday at the Greater Philadelphia Convention Center in Oaks.

Kids were told to show their parents “everything they’ve learned about Minecraft” during Minefaire Sunday at the Greater Philadelphia Convention Center in Oaks. (Andy Stettler/Ticket)

Parents huddled around their kids, sitting in folding chairs or taking a knee to watch as their child showed them how to cook meat or install an oven.
How often does a child say they want to help install any household appliance let alone rake the leaves?
Does your child play Minecraft and do you play too? Send a screenshot or clear photo of something you’ve built to astettler@mainlinemedianews.com and I’ll post the best to tickettoentertainment.com

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