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Minecraft Must Die!

I hate Minecraft.  No, let me be more clear: I *&%$ing hate Minecraft.  I would hate all it stands for, if it bothered to stand for anything at all.  If I could hire Khan, Zod or even Assad from Syria to commit total genocide upon it’s world, I would.  It’s not just that Minecraft is utterly mindless (stop defending, you embarrass yourself when you do), it represents an insult to basic gaming philosophy.  It makes Myst look like Grand Theft Auto.  Steve, the default Minecraft skin, needs a toilet bowl for a head to represent all the crud that is spewed into the game.  I’ve hated many a game in my life, but never with the vitriol or reasons I despise the creation which has captivated millions of children.

I have played video games since I was at least five years old, back when Diff’rent Strokes knew what Willis was talking about and Bo and Luke spent their days hiding Uncle Jesse’s moonshine from Roscoe P. Coltrane and his dog, Flash.  The first games I played were probably Pac-Man, Space Invaders, Asteroids and Breakout.  Some of the games were hard – really hard.  All of them required mass consumption of caffeinated beverages to succeed (hello Mountain Dew).  I stuck quarter after quarter into Space Invaders and didn’t make it past the third level.  I didn’t complain.  It was something new and I knew – just knew – if I saved up another dollar I could get to level four, which is exactly what manufacturers of the original video games intended.

We all know it is possible to achieve psychotically high scores on these old games but face it: most of us didn’t.  Succeeding didn’t matter as much as the potential it was possible.  Those guys with the initials on the high scores told us so.  If “FRT” could get 55,000 points, so could anyone.  As I got older, I realized those with high scores were able to financially afford to live at an arcade or were lucky enough to work at one.  Trust me, high scores were not achieved on five bucks a week.  No way, no day.  For all the classic games, there were many that well and truly sucked.  People don’t remember them because they didn’t last long in the arcade.  Google “worst arcade games” and you will find many a list to take you down the road of forgotten quarters.  In the end, it didn’t matter.  We were all young, interested in something new and when you were in an arcade, your social status didn’t exist – especially if you got your name on the board.

Console systems have ruled the gaming market (more or less) since about 1991, when the Super Nintendo joined the Sega Genesis as the dominant systems on the market.  Their graphics were comparable to many arcade games (especially the aging ones) and in many ways surpassed them in terms of depth.  High scores were still a thing to brag about, but so was beating Final Fantasy II.  These systems popularized combative fighting games in the home market.  Titles such as Street Fighter II, Mortal Kombat and Killer Instinct caused groups of people to gather in houses for tournaments that were once reserved for arcades.  More realistic sports and driving games followed along with 3D fighting games such as Tekken and Soul Caliber.  Out of all the years I have spent playing and watching video games, one thing was congruent: players had respect for each other, passed the controller when it was their turn and accepted defeat even in the most unfair circumstances.

Which brings me, unfortunately, to Minecraft.  It’s premise is simple: players build a 8-bit-esque 3D world of their choosing, fight some random zombies and other hostiles with the goal of defeating some sort of crappy looking dragon thing.  It doesn’t matter.  Nobody I know plays the game this way.  If they do, it is to show their friends that they can or make a YouTube to show absolutely no one.  Some Poopcrafters make elaborate cities which must have taken them weeks, if not months.  Enough time to rise to the surface and breathe anyway.  The majority of players (meaning everyone I know and my friends know – all of them elementary to middle school kids) play the game with their friends either together or online.  This is the bad time.

Never have I seen so many arguments, so much fighting (verbal and physical) and so much outright lying as I have with Minecraft.  My kids scream and wail over whose world they’re going to play, who has what controller and “Don’t wreck my house!”  All I see is a bunch of badly rendered blocks and children who lose all form of self-control when playing it.  I never saw a single argument or fight at an arcade.  Players put their quarters on the machine to reserve their place in line and it was respected.  Period.  To do this with Minecraft would require all players to be put in a steel cage and fight it out.  I was a part of many a Street Fighter II and Tekken tournaments (with up to 15 people in the house) and never saw a heated argument break out.  The lone exception being the man called “Rooster,” who would throw a controller at any defeat handed to him. 

I decided to ask other parents about Minecraft.  The replies I received were surprising.  Most of the kids played the game and all parents hated it for many of the reasons stated previously.  When I asked my friend Ucis his opinion on why something so docile on the surface could result in a home version of Jerry Springer, his thought was the fact it does seem so harmless and nice is the very reason it causes conflict.  When you are playing a fighting game or a sports game, the gamer accepts breaks aren’t always going to go their way.  In Minecraft, there is no inherent competition or screwing over your neighbor so it naturally invents itself.  Maybe it’s telling us more about our children than we really want to know.  If we give them paradise, will it just devolve into anger, sticks and stones?

Being the pseudo proactive parent that I am, I decided to ban Minecraft for the rest of the summer (two months).  Shane and Romana initially fought it but a strange thing happened: they discovered other activities.  Gone were the arguments about Endermen, Creepers and whatever else inhabits that worthless world.  Ironically, they both got back into Legos, which still is conflict free.  They expanded their game choices, with Romana going with Dance Central and Happy Action Theater while Shane reloaded Super Mario Galaxy, Gunstringer, and Sid Meier’s Pirates.  He even got Mom and Dad to join in with trivia games and a Monopoly variant called Fortune Street (which rocks).  If there would be a moral to this story it might be: never let your kids become obsessed with one activity.  Or it could be: any hobby has the chance to become an aggressive obsession if not kept in check.  Naaahhh.  The real moral is: Minecraft sucks monkey turds.