There wasn’t any news today. I haven’t read anything remotely stirring in industry updates this week. I’m still in the middle of playing Peacewalker because I am the slowest gamer on the planet, and with people in the flat, I spent the weekend watching humdrum games of FIFA or rag-dolling into traffic on GTA. There was nothing for me to write about this fine, drizzly Monday evening, until of course, I checked the BBC website. And now there is something for me to write about.
I’m going to go ahead and suggest you click this link first, because you need to experience the argument first hand. You need to see it, feel it, drink it in. If you’ve come back without having hurled your monitor at the nearest window, and begun rampantly trying to set everything you own on fire; well done, you’re better at this than I am.
If you didn’t read it, the upshot is some creening half-wit has decided to spitball together a big list of redundant reasons as to why as a father Minecraft scares him to the core of his being. Which reminds me of this, predominantly:
So what is this “speaking as a mother” then? Is that a euphemism for “talking out of my arse”? “Suspending all rational thought for a moment”? As a rational human being, Al-Qaeda are a loose association of psychopathic zealots who could be rounded up with a sustained police investigation. But speaking as a parent, they’re all eight foot tall, they’ve got lasers under their moustaches, a huge eye in their foreheads and the only way to kill them is to NUKE every country that hasn’t sent us a Christmas card in the the last 20 years!! “Speaking as a mother”. – Bill Bailey
And what do you know, it’s immensely relevant. And not gender exclusive.
So. It’s not like this thread-bare, wet-paper-bag excuse for a news item needs tearing apart, but as I’ve mentioned, I’ve nothing else on, so I’m going to do it anyway. Like dissecting the human rights infringement of the Nazi Party’s policies eh.
“If I want to irritate my 13-year-old son,” the article begins heroically, “I refer to Minecraft as “digital Lego”. He grew out of Lego a long time ago.” If you’ve grown out of Lego, like this ignorant father claims his son has, you should close your browser window right now, put down the coffee and quit your meaningless middle management job because you’ve done life wrong. Go and start again.
The post steams straight into inciteful, nonsensical, outraged Mother mode, calling Minecraft “Lego on steroids”. Getting those drug connotations in early means readers will already be reaching for Mojang’s customer service hotlines, their fingers twitching, excited and breathless at the very idea of being able to prove things their kids like are horrible.
Gabrielle Wacker, whose name may speak for itself, tells the BBC, presumably through a heated, high pitched shriek, that she’s worried the game will reduce her 11 year old’s interest in the real world. Mrs Wacker, if you’ve not managed to instill the difference between the real world and a voxel-based game in his 11 years, you shouldn’t have had kids. You should have been sent to a vivisectionist. At the very least you should perhaps look into what it is about the real world you’ve thrust upon him, that makes Minecraft’s infinite possibilities so enticing.
“He would be on it before school given the chance”, she continues in a sort of excitable yelp, at which point I suppose the world would end? Imagine being so creatively driven that you want to wake up in the morning and BUILD THINGS as a child. What a travesty.
The problem with these parents is they don’t care. Gabrielle Wacker clearly doesn’t give a flying horse radish what it is her son is doing so long as it can’t be tentatively linked to something untoward. If they took more than a condescending glance at what it is that has enraptured their child’s mind to the point of, what looks to be obsession (but isn’t, Gabs, don’t worry – it’s this thing you might have forgotten about from your youth called ‘passion’) they’d realise the good it can do.
I’m not saying kids should be allowed a free-reign, and to be able to do what they want, when they want. Christ knows I wasn’t, but I remember being similarly addicted, a word Jolyon Jenkins reportedly ‘hesitates’ (but still manages) to use, to a game called Akuji the Heartless, for one brief summer. A game nobody’s even heard of, and that offered the player no such opportunity for vast creative invention. These things are not going to kill your children, they’re not going to warp their minds, or turn them into terrorists. They won’t make them forget what the real world is, unless you’ve brought up a catatonic imbecile, in which case, perhaps it’s better both of you forget. And go live on the moon. Or something.
“Children”, says the writer of this garbage, “should be exercising more than their mouse fingers”. Well might I suggest, Mr. Jenkins, that you get off that aging pin cushion you call an arse and do some parenting then. Games were my life as a kid, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t do anything else at all. Surely it’s balance? And when they are playing games, talking about games, watching insipid, screaming YouTubers play games, the best thing for them to be playing, watching and thinking about, is probably Minecraft. You parents these days. You don’t know you’re born.
The argument for reading is a touchy one, because lots of kids don’t read these days, and it’s sad; but the education system doesn’t often help, and neither does the telly (you know, the BBC). Jenkins, when faced with the supposed opposition of “why it’s any worse than reading for hours at a time”, says that “reading allows you to imaginatively inhabit other minds.” Which it does, yes. Reading should be a staple of your child’s life without a doubt. But Minecraft IS different. What about your child’s OWN mind? What about what he or she can create or do; his or her ideas… I don’t think these people understand Minecraft even slightly, or their kids, seemingly, so who are they to write BBC-published, scaremongering drivel about why we should all be very afraid of it. He claims it to be unstoppable, that it’s even happening IN SCHOOLS, with the lip-wobbling, nervous disposition of a mother who’s found out her nine year old is taking a Shooting Up with Pete Docherty class.
He goes on to claim that autistic children, autistic children, who’re playing the game should be reined in, concerned about too much exposure to Minecraft’s world, and its muted complexity. It’s pathetic, and this unthinking willingness to arbitrarily denounce something, seemingly because it’s a video game, feels largely incorrigible. But hey, it gave me something depressing to write about, didn’t it. More next week, THEN.