If you recognise the glazed look in little Johnny’s eyes in the photo, then you’ve probably heard of the game Minecraft. It’s incredibly popular with children all over the world, much to the surprise of parents. The best (and longest) description of why is probably minemum’s article on it. Here’s an excerpt:
So Minecraft can be much more than a game for some. They feel the surge of adrenaline when they run from a monster and the very real satisfaction of finally striking diamonds deep in their hand-crafted mine. And that feeling, that richness of experience, can be incredibly compelling. It also means that they have a vested interest in what happens during the game – keeping themselves alive, protecting the fruits of their considerable labour and looking after others. This level of concern can be time-consuming and hard to disengage from.
Another factor is that kids spend most of their lives being told what to do. When to eat, what to eat, where to go, both at school and at home. In Minecraft, they have the control of where they go, what they do, when they go to bed etc. etc.
The first time I started to grasp the real allure of the game for kids was when my nephew begged me to play the game in network mode, so he could show me some thing he’d built. There were hills, mines, a few sheep and a house!
"LOOK UNCLE STEVIE! I’VE BUILT US A HOUSE!"
He’d built a single room building that had a door and a single bed against each wall. He was so excited that we could sleep over at the house. There was no asking for permission from anyone, this was his world. The “sleeping” aspect is actually just the screen fading to black for about 2 seconds, but for him, it was something significant in his life at this time, in a world he built.
But my kids don’t even PLAY the game half the time! They just watch video’s of others playing it!
This is pretty common. Minecraft Mum sums it up as:
Then there’s the whole extension of the Minecraft experience outside of the game itself – YouTube videos, parody songs, the wiki, websites, MineCon. Kids want to learn how to make cool stuff, find answers to their questions, share their creations with others and hang out with other people who understand what they’re talking about and why they love the game so much. This can take up more time than actually playing the game, and leads them to become part of a huge external community. So it becomes really easy to fill your mind (not to mention entire days) with all things Minecraft.
In summary, it can be difficult to understand at first why kids get obsessed with it, but if you dig in a bit deeper, it’s not at all surprising. The important thing is to keep it in moderation.
If you need help in moderating your child’s gaming or Internet time, check out the Koala Box’s time limits feature