While The Cat's Away...

This weekend - until Tuesday, no less - Kellie is away. She and her mum have abandoned me with the kids gone to see James, my brother-in-law, his girlfriend, and their kids.

Which means, not only am I the one left in charge, it also means I am unsupervised. And you all know what happens when men are free of their wives. We cannot be trusted.

And it is here, that I too have to confess. Even I have to admit to what I have done, knowing full well that by doing so, it is going to alter how many of you see me for the rest of my life. Perhaps even whispered at my funeral...

But maybe by coming clean, it will be almost cathartic, freeing, a release of guilt, and of the burden of guilt.

I am so sorry to even utter these words.

But I've started playing MineCraft.

I know, I know... I can almost hear the sharp intake of breath, the shattering of mugs dropped from hands, the splattering of coffee spat over the monitors, the swooning of ladies... But I am weak. I allowed myself to be woo'd, to be seduced, to have my eye drawn from that which I love...

Please, don't judge me.


But I digress. AND I am also going to use the classic "But It's Not My Fault" defence. As, I am sure, many many of my fellow members of the adult world have said before; "It's not me, it's *Insert-Name-Of-Child-That-Plays*"

In this case, it's Tamsyns fault. Yes, the nine year old. She is a MineCrack addict - if she's not playing it, she's watching other people playing it, or listening to tips and tricks from other players, or reading guides about it. And my interest was, if I am honest, originally just a case of getting involved in something The Child enjoys. I've often sat with her while she plays, watching her concentrate on what she wants, building out the things she loves, killing nasties, but that has been the limit of our joint-involvement with it.

The boys and I have a generalised love of gaming. We talk about games together, we play a lot of the same games. Molly and I have a mutual enjoyment of taking the piss out of one another, slagging each other off, or just flopping on the sofa watching crime dramas together. But Tamsyn... She's a flighty little bugger. Every time something has caught her eye, it's been relegated back to the Big Pile O' Relegated Stuff and MineCrack has taken over her life once again.

Now, I've tried in the past to play it - I've mentioned a few times in various posts about how much I can't stand it (Irony, eh?) and how I can't get on with it. But then, I've waded in alone, and tried to figure it out alone. There is only so many times a guy can be Blown Up In The Dark whilst Wielding A Cube Of Wood Trying To Fend Off Whatever-That-Is and simultaneously Trying To Work Out Where The Hell I Am while ALSO-simultaneously Wondering Why That Green Figure Is Hissing & Flashing KABOOM Oh That's Why...

And cue the /ragequit

I considered watching a Video Guide. I considered reading a N00bie Guide. I EVEN considered RTFM'ing... But the first two just made me think I was no better than Tamsyn, and the latter, well... Ha! Hellooo, I'm a man!

So this weekend, I sat with Tam, and made her sell it to me. Getting her to explain it to me in her own words. Granted, it didn't start too well, as when I asked "Explain to me what it is about MineCraft that you love, explain it to me, pretend I've never seen it or heard of it before" she replied "You can mine stuff, and you can craft stuff, and I love it."

She of many words. Thank you Captain Obvious.

But I pressed on, sat on the desk talking away to her for the better part of an hour. And after I managed to get her to open her brain-doors and start explaining it, you could see the real passion in what she was talking about. She was animated, jabbering, her brain was trying to outrun her mouth. Then we sat and she showed me what is what. She played in Creative Mode which apparently gives you everything you need so you don't have to play like I did fight to survive... She started out by building an elaborate house. Adding rooms and furniture, clicking fast and furiously. Then she built a stable, populated it with animals. And like her brain running faster and faster while talking, her clicking went to a new level, and she was trying to show me everything all at once and doing one thing while talking about another...

By this point - talk of Ender Dragons, Portals, Nether-something-or-other - I was getting confused, so she sat with me on the sofa, and I fired up a new game. Yes, the 38-year-old-man was sat with his nine-year-old daughter, and SHE was telling HIM what to do. "Click that. Pick that up. Now make this. Now put that there. No, there. No, There... Now make this. Add that. Add that. Daddy, ADD THAT *furious pointing while I get confused*"

In the end, I got it, I worked it out, and, more importantly, I understood why I kept dying (because I sucked) and I survived my first night. And... Well...

I'm actually enjoying it now.

Don't get me wrong, it's frustrating as hell, I die a lot and find myself trying to remember what my Master taught me, but yes, I admit, I enjoy playing MineCrack. Yes, I suck at it still. Yes, Tamsyn has a much better spatial awareness than I do (but any fool beats me on that front!). But I only started playing at the weekend.

And, side-note, for people with OCD, this game is either a blessing or a curse. I am yet to decide which, but all I know is, I spent over three hours levelling off a mountain top, and another two hours making my lake a perfect cube with a water spring bubbling up in the EXACT centre.


Not that I need to justify my actions, but... I've been thinking about doing this for a while now, as to why I watched and joined in and started playing. But when I was a kid, I would spend days at a time, sat in amongst the worlds supply of Lego, usually with Gemma bumbling around on the periphery, and Mum sat on the sofa, watching us, making suggestions, admiring our handy-work... Generally being involved in what it was we were doing.

But today - in the digital age - the kids prefer doing things on something with a screen... A phone, a tablet, a laptop, a computer, a console... And unless you're playing an MMO (Like World of Warcraft, for example, which Jaysen has been playing for years, Dom has also now been playing for a few years, and quite often, we play together. Or we talk tactics. Builds. Funny anecdotes - that sort of thing) joining in with what they are doing is difficult. Not every child wants to sit and play Lego. Or draw. Or do arty-crafty things. And if you MAKE them turn off the Thing-With-A-Screen and sit to do what YOU want them to do, all you're going to end up doing is making them NOT enjoy whatever it is you want them to do in the first place.

So, my interest in MineCraft (originally) was to connect with Tamsyn with something she does, that she enjoys, and really, is not THAT much different to playing with Lego together.

Less messy too.

And there you have it. My name is Dan, and I am a MineCraft player.

Again, I apologise.

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