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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Why I Won't Build My Daughter a House

“Daddy, build me a house.”

That’s what I get these days.  Not, “push me on the swings.”  Not, “Can I have a glass of water?”   My daughter wants me to build her a house.  

Of course, I am no architect.  I once built a living room fort that was condemned by the housing authority.  Luckily, my kid isn’t referring to a real live structure with concrete and wood.  She wants me to build her a house in Minecraft.

Because she did well in school last week, I decided to reward her by putting Minecraft Pocket Edition on her Tablet.   I didn’t know what I was setting myself up for when I did it.

She’s watched me play Minecraft on my PC for awhile, now, and I thought that she had absorbed the basics, but she hadn’t.   So, I gave her a tutorial on her tablet.   I built her a little hovel in the side of a mountain and set her off and running.   Then, she’d come back and give me updates, every so often, as she placed a new block or had done something remarkable.

Then, she started walking up to me on a regular basis asking me to find her home.    “Daddy, it’s getting dark out.  Can you get me back to my shack before the zombies get me?”   She didn’t understand that I set her to peaceful mode to start.  I wanted her to get her feet under her before she went on and played for real.

Again, she comes up and asks me to drive, handing the keys to me as I stand in an unfamiliar location, with no landmarks with her lording over my shoulder.   It was like some weird survival game where you have to find your way out of the wilderness with nothing more than a Swiss Army Knife and a pack of matches.   Time after time I would walk her back to her shack, leaving her inside the safety of her hovel.   “YOU DIDN’T PUT ME IN BED!”

“Yeah, because, by the time I give you back the tablet and you get situated half of the new day is gone.”

She wasn’t getting it.   Soon, her requests took on a grander theme.

“Build me a house.”

“Build me a town.”

“Build me an amusement park.”

Now, it might seem a bit mean of me to deny my child all these requests.  After all, this should be a bonding experience for us.   However, she will continue to rely on me to solve her problems in Minecraft as well as the world.   That’s one of the great things about the game.   It forces you to be self sufficient.  You have no instructions.  You have no direction.  You are simply plopped into an open world with all the tools you need to build a kingdom.   They are just not assembled.   It’s a safe construct with no negative repercussions.  We aren’t leaving you in the wild and telling you to find your way home.   I’m giving you a game that you can play on the couch, wrapped up in your blankets,  with all your stuffed animals gathered around, watching.   I’m hoping the  problem solving gene kicks in and she begins to assess the real world in the same fashion.  The things she learned in the game, in order to survive and advance, can be applied to life.

Or, I’ll just find her in the yard, punching a tree.  It could go either way at this point.

See how my kid handles the world of video game development.  She's not bad.
Game Dev Tycoon - Fixing the Unicorn and Dragon Relations

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