I adore video games. Ever since I played that first Atari game when I was a kid I’ve been hooked. Later I had a Nintendo NES and I’ve yet to find anyone that can beat me at Dr. Mario. Let me know if you’re up to the challenge, though. I’m more than happy to show you how wrong you are.
I’ve tried many different types of games through the years and found my favorites in MMORPGs. In my 20’s I discovered Everquest and would spend hours every evening camping spawns, training to zone (I was epically notorious for this one), and running all over the place turning in quest items for special gear. Even more hours on the weekends were spent questing with my guild. And there have been many other games since then.
So when my son (age 10) asked me if I’d play Minecraft with him I thought it would be a great experience. For him. I’d be able to teach him a few things since I’d been playing games for so many years. Little did I know he’d be the one teaching me.
We recently acquired a Xbox One game system and even though we have Minecraft for PC, Playstation 3, and even Minecraft Pocket Edition for the Kindle we just had to buy it for the Xbox One. After playing it off and on for a few days, Lukas asks me out of the blue one day if I wanted to play with him. I recall being fairly busy with one of the many probably useless things we grown-ups believe are vital to our existence but really aren’t and I almost said no. Almost. It was the word “want” that made me pause. I did want to play instead of doing whatever boring crap I was currently doing. So I said yes instead of no and sat down with him on the couch.
I really wish you could’ve seen how excited this kid was! He grabbed the second controller from the charging stand and showed me how to turn it on. Ok, I knew that part but he didn’t know I knew that part and I was happy to let him show me. I mean, I had gotten our profiles setup when we first hooked up the system after all. Clearly he had conveniently forgotten that part by now but the kid lit completely up inside at the thought that he was going to teach this old fogey how to do something new. He created a new realm for us and then started talking me through the basics.
Here’s where things get a bit interesting. For those that know me well, you’re probably already picking up on an important thing here. This old dog is extremely used to being the one to explain how things work to other people. It has been a very long time since someone has taught me how to do something completely new and I’m not going to lie…it was a bit frustrating and a lot humbling. Lukas knew everything (or so it seemed and still does) about this game and was about to burst from excitement while trying to teach it all to me in one fell swoop. Sounds like a dangerous combo, doesn’t it? If so, you’ll be as surprised as I was at just how much fun this has been.
We spent a few hours wandering around in survival mode; chopping trees, killing animals for food, leading Mom back to safety when night was coming because she was lost again, crafting basic items, building a small house, laughing at Mom when she forgets to step back after hitting a creeper and gets caught in the explosion, and did I mention leading Mom back to the house at night time when she’s lost? That last bit happens a lot. I’m not even ashamed, those darn blocky hills and clouds and lakes all look identical to me! He decided to build a really tall dirt tower by our house with a torch on top so I could see it. The kid is brilliant!
We’ve played several times now but it was during the third foray that he decided we should take Mom through the tutorial. Truthfully, I didn’t learn anything in that tutorial I didn’t already pick up from our prior sessions but I was glad to be able to go through things in the logical order instead of his sporadic (nomadic?) approach to teaching me things. Have I mentioned that he talks nonstop and at a really fast speed? Things were progressing very well until the part where you are instructed to build a house before nightfall. Gotta get protection from the spiders, zombies, and creepers oh my! I was almost finished when I was suddenly surrounded in complete darkness. Well, not the real me. My character in the game. I thought the game had glitched or something except Lukas’ half of the screen looked normal. I uttered something akin to a cleaned up version of “WTF?” when Lukas starts giggling. I look at him with an apparently hysterical look of confusion because he stopped giggling and had progressed to full-on belly laughs and knee slapping. I looked back at the television screen and noticed that little turd was in my house! So then I knew something was afoot and I asked him what he did. Once he could breathe again he admitted that he tunneled under my house while I was diligently working and literally pulled the floor out from under my feet. Then, being so experienced, he mined upward and quickly filled in the blocks next to and above me before I could change my camera angle.
We should all be very careful this kid doesn’t turn to a life of crime someday because he even had multiple block types ready so that when he filled in next to me it was dirt and when he filled in above me (and below him where he had tunneled up) were the exact type of wood I had used or my floor. This took thought and preparation and spot-on timing. I was a little annoyed until his laughter brought a smile to my face. Now, every time we play I do a much better job of watching what ole Guy Fawkes over there is doing on his half of the split screen. There’s been very little griefing of dear old mom since but I think that is only due to my diligence in watching him. Now when I ask him what his favorite part of playing Minecraft with Mom is he smiles and says, “Griefing is the most fun!” I think I may be in trouble here, folks.
Do you play video games with your kids? Let me know how that works out for you in the comments or find me on Facebook or Twitter to discuss.
Feature image copyright by hobbmb via Flickr
2 thoughts on “Teaching An Old Dog New Tricks – Video Game Style”
Thanks for sharing this story. I had much the same experience recently. We’ve had Minecraft on my creaky old PC and then a PS3, but I haven’t really been interested until it recently came to Wii U. Just after Christmas I sat down with my son and he started showing me the ropes. We messed around a bit destroying a village and then unleashing lava upon the survivors (which gets really cool at night!). I’m woefully bad at it but getting better. I feel like I should “get it” more – I blog about games and have even written for GeekDad a bit! – but I guess I’m just getting old.
Jayson, I’d love to read more of your experiences gaming with your son. It is so fascinating how quickly they surpass us just as we did our parents when it comes to technology. Do you play any other games with your son? How do you feel about the rumors that the Wii U is a ‘failure’ and will soon be discontinued and Nintendo will have to come out with a new system? We have the hat trick at my house, Xbox One, Playstation (3 not 4), and Wii U. And we love them all and feel it depends on the game which system we prefer to play it on.
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